IMRAN's In My Humble Opinion

From Imran Anwar http://imran.tv http://flickr.com/ImranAnwar

Archive for July, 2012

Product Review: Eikon To Go USB Fingerprint Reader With Apple Mac + Windows Software

Posted by imrananwar on July 23, 2012

I have always believed in the convenience of biometric devices. They have been hard to come by on Macs, but for many years I have used and appreciated a fingerprint scanner (infrared pad to USB) from Microsoft, that only worked on Windows, though sadly now does not work in Windows 7.

This Eikon fingerprint scanner is a USB plug in type for the Mac and comes with Windows software also. I tested and use it on both platforms, after buying from Amazon.

The product itself gets 3 stars, but the 4th star is for the fact that they made the effort to develop it for Mac, and even more so for how absolutely wonderful both the seller (reseller) and the manufacturer were to my emails about the bugs and frustrations I encountered.

It is finicky, it often takes 2-3 slides of the finger(s) or one slow very accurate swipe for it to work. Often I wonder if the 2-3 attempts are worth the hassle of using the device. On the other hand (no pun intended) it does log me in quickly when I do it “right”. Using it regularly and getting used to it provide the benefit that you can ( I did) make the password far more complex/long than when just typing it in my hand. E.g. &*mYpa$$word&*43!! Instead of just &*mYpas$$ etc.

The worst thing about the design is that it is useless to plug in to a typical MacBook Pro (i5 15″ for this case) when anything else is plugged in. It is too wide. So, it comes with a maybe 6″ USB extension, but then it makes it even less attractive, in visual and usage sense.

Now you have loose hanging thing twisted upside down or sideways sitting on the side of your laptop (as the cables often have an inherent ‘twist’ torque in them that flip the device on its side), and it is now even less usable as you almost have to grab is with one, hold it up firmly enough so you can swipe a finger from the other hand through it.

Since I use external USB keyboards with my MacBook Pros, I tried to plug it into the USB built in to Apple keyboards. No joy, as the device will not fit there and even if it did, it would be under the keyboard body and not usable. Hanging it by the USB tail extension I can use it but it will always move around, still requiring the 2 hand use, unless I scotch tape it. Then, it makes the laptop a little less mobile if I have to remove it every time I travel.

I am also disappointed that despite taking far more repetitions to learn a fingerprint than a 10 year old Microsoft infrared fingerprint reader (sadly not compatible with Mac or even Windows 7 now), it still needs the finger swipe to be so specifically accurate. But, it i doable, and when you get used to it, it does save time.

A plus is that I have it working on an office provided Windows 7 laptop. A disappointment is that it does not store finger prints on the device for MAC users. It does store the fingerprints for the Windows software! So, technically I think I can carry it to different Windows desktops/laptops without having to save fingerprints x 10 x 5 repetitions per finger on each machine, but for each Mac I would have to go through that process.

Based on just how cooperative the seller and the manufacturer have been, and the price, and overall tolerable usability, I am considering getting another unit so I can leave one taped to the desk and one to carry with me or use on the other laptop(s). Or, of course, I will be happy to buy the next great biometric device that comes out for my preferred platforms. 

But please be aware of the shortcomings (and advantages) before you order this or similar devices.

Imran Anwar

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Palm ~ Beach. Far From Palm Beach! – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on July 22, 2012

Palm Beach, Florida, one of the most affluent, and classy, places in the world, is also one of my favorite places to have lived in. Singer Island, the location of my old Tiara condo, and the mega rich Palm Beach Island, have some of the most stunning Atlantic Ocean waters and beautiful beaches with palm trees lining the roads, and the area.

I finally got to visit the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida several times this year, including a beautiful memories-making trip to the Naples, Fort Myers Beach, and Captiva/Sanibel areas culminating in another visit to Apollo Beach and Tampa Bay.

It was on my first evening in Fort Myers Beach (the island side) that I captured this sunset view from my resort balcony showing a stunning silhouette of trees against the melting pink vanilla gold sky.

A vision of Palm ~ Beach, far from Palm Beach! I am sure you will love this photograph.

© 2012 IMRAN
DSC_1192

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CURES For Security Challenges In Cloud, Crowd, Big Data And The Big Bad World

Posted by imrananwar on July 6, 2012

An industry colleague and fellow blogger/journalist Mary Jander wrote an interesting article, “Security May Be Too Big a Job for IT” on Internet Evolution. It was a thought provoking post. Though I only see two comments on it at the time of writing this article, I am, for someone often taking contrarian views, quite in agreement with both Kim Davis and smkinoshita who wrote comments there. They talked about collaboration, and where the role of Security in an organization should lie.

With the advent of Cloud Computing, and more and more use of public, hybrid and public cloud converged infrastructures, one of the questions I am asked most often is, “Oh, is the cloud secure?”

Ironically, this is common between a housewife sitting on a flight next to me and a CEO that I may be advising.

“Nothing is secure, unless you make it a collaborative business of everyone in the enterprise to make it so,” is what I, sometimes to their chagrin, bluntly tell them.

The problem is how Cloud Security, IT Security, Information Security, Data Security, Premises Security, Perimeter Security, XYZ Security, are still almost islands of imagined security unto themselves. This is not so much a technical limitation as an issue of three major distinct issues.

The first is due to enterprise architectures designed for the last century, or at best, for the last decade.

The second is the human element of doing management by dividing large entities into smaller pieces for easier management. That works great for operations, project management, etc. but is a terrible approach to security.

The third is a lack of collaboration (and integration) where it counts (end-to-end enterprise security) while organizational leaders patting themselves on the back for having rolled out some collaboration platform for sharing Word documents and Excel files.

This problem is not new. It goes back decades.

In 1999, as CEO of EverTrac, a pioneer of location-aware mobile information management & security, I was privileged to speak to top leaders at the United States Space & Missile Defense Command (I still get goosebumps at that name 🙂 and tell people to envisage Crystal Palace in one of my favorite childhood movies, War Games) at an Undisclosed Location in Alabama 🙂 .

But, excitement aside, I was surprised (and seriously concerned) when they were surprised at my saying they had to worry more about the information than about how to secure the servers and data centers, as they were focused on.

Even more, I said, they had to start thinking in terms of erasing boundaries between security departments — not just in IT but even with and within non-IT. At the level of criical importance their Star Wars program was (and the nature of information today must be even more important and the threats even more nefarious and multifarious), not only would there be attempts, I said, to break in over the network, but physically, as well as various combinations.

The advent of mobile devices, global networks, hacking tools, complicated systems with often un-patched vulnerabilities, managed by people either lacking or not interested in keeping up with the latest iterations of technology and security challenges and solutions, all touching the cloud, make for an explosive mixture.

Even in 1999, I declared to my audience that these problems had CURES™.
 
I said Collaborative Unified Realtime Enterprise Security (collaboration was not yet a buzzword then) would be key to solving the problem before it became intractable. Sadly, 12-13 years later, even the top companies in private sector high information value businesses do not get it.
 
I continue to highlight this even more vociferously the more our lives generate, use, and are governed by, floods of big data, accessible to crowds large and small, all in a cloud with nebulous threats and security capabilities. I am glad others are taking up this serious problem.
 
Together, we can find the CURES!
 

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