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To hear some tell it, all signs are pointing to an era when biometrics will
be a key element of authentication for enterprises. Just how close that era is
depends on who you ask.

For companies like UPEK, the time for biometrics is now. The company
strategy has involved partnering with notebook vendors such as Dell, Lenovo and
Toshiba to embed its fingerprint scanning technology into laptops. Now, UPEK is
pushing biometrics as a mechanism for securing online transactions.

"A set of Web components can be dropped into any existing Web site that
will then allow the user to authenticate using his fingerprint, assuming the
user has the appropriate hardware, instead of a password," said Bill
Bockwoldt, director of software solutions at UPEK.

The service, Bockwoldt explained, is built on
industry-standard SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) tokens to enable
integration with existing identity management and access tools. At the moment,
UPEK is demonstrating the online authentication service to Web services

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