Silex fingerprint authentication can help in securing patient data

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Fingerprint authentication is an emerging technology in securing sensitive patient data in healthcare facilities. Silex Technology has two offerings - the Combo-Mini for Windows-based PCs and the SecurePrint System for printers - which are examples of how biometric technology can be used to identify users and effectively lock-down computers and guarantee that print jobs end up in the right hands.

The company's COMO-Mini, which is very small and could fit on a keychain or bracelet, includes both a fingerprint mini-reader and UIM (SIM) card which connects to a PC via a USB port of a computer providing personal ID access control of PCs and networks. The software compares the minutiae of your fingerprint with a stored template to verify identity.
If a radiologist, for example, downloads sensitive patient information that they don't want anyone else to see, the software grabs the data and automatically places them into an encrypted folder location, said Gary Bradt, VP of Biometrix Division, Silex Technology. If the computer owner logs off or shuts down the computer and the computer is then turned on by someone else, they are not able to get any of the data within the secure folder.

The Combo-Mini also could be useful for healthcare professionals that move from computer to computer throughout the day and accessing sensitive information. Healthcare providers are human and sometimes forget to log-off. The Combo-Mini alleviates this problem because you take it with you and no one accessing the computer afterwards will have the same permissions.
Print jobs also can be a security nightmare. Bradt said that healthcare professionals can go to great lengths to secure information but the security can all come to a screeching halt in what is often called the 'last mile' as a document is sent to a printer in a public location within an office. How do you secure the 'last mile? Well, Silex's SecurePrint is designed specifically for just such a scenario.

SecurePrint is comprised of a number of hardware and software components that create a secure, biometric network printing system. The system holds the designated print jobs within the print queue until the authorized person can retrieve them from the printer.

"Basically it will not release a print job until you go down to that device with a USB port and put your fingerprint in the device and it prints out your stuff," said Bradt.

The software also lets you pick and choose what documents are secure or not, and allows for other print jobs that do not require authentication to continue printing so it doesn't halt the entire department.

Bradt adds that some companies have tried to solve these printing security issues by using PIN based security systems on printers, but that causes problems because people forget the PIN numbers. Or, people create workarounds like putting sticky notes on the machines which defeats the entire process. SecurePrint is a much more sophisticated and easy way to secure print jobs.