I work in a semi-public environment. My office is in a place where caseworkers have clients come infrequently and because of that, my office is exposed to unsecured personnel. I do my best to secure it by remembering to lock my door and let my coworkers know when I’ll be away from my office, but sometimes it can be difficult to make sure all my bases are covered. This is why I like to take other security precautions like locking my user account on my computer when I walk away from them. Can you crack a password? Sure. But what about a fingerprint? I have two personal computers — one MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (and Touch ID sensor) and one HP Spectre. For more activities, I will use the MBP, but occasionally, I like to take my HP out in public. It’s very lightweight and it’s easier to connect to my work through a PC machine.
The Spectre has the standard security measures included with it including a passcode option for sign-in and facial recognition. It did not come equipped with a fingerprint sensor, so I decided to add one and chose the VeriMark from Kensington. Kensington has a long-standing relationship with PC users and security. They provide a lot of options for users and now the VeriMark is designed to be small, secure, and works directly with Windows Hello.
The VeriMark Fingerprint Key is a small USB key that plugs directly into your computer. It is the first security key to support Windows Hello and Fast Identity Online (FIDO) universal two-factor authentication (U2F). The VeriMark protects against unauthorized access on ‘compromised devices’ like my computers at work. Some of its features include:
- Advanced Fingerprint Technology: Combines biometric performance and 360-degree readability
- Universal Integration: Provides scalable, out-of-the-box access for Windows computers
- FIDO U2F Certified: Meets 2nd-factor security key login requirements for cloud-based service and software providers, including Google, Dropbox, GitHub and Facebook
- VeriMark Password Manager: Fully-secure password bank that allows the fingerprint to authenticate and automatically fill in usernames and passwords
- Compact Design: Easily attaches to standard key ring for portability
At this time, the VeriMark Fingerprint Key is only compatible with Windows 10, 8.1 and 7 and the FIDO U2F is only supported by the Chrome browser.
The VeriMark key comes in a small, Kensington-branded box. There is some basic information included in several different languages. When you open the box, you find the key safely pressed into a plastic base so that it doesn’t slide around inside the box. There are several pieces of paper that ship with the box including a warranty card, FCC information, and a quick set-up card. Initial set-up for this device is very, very easy. You plug it into your computer’s USB port and then visit www.kensington.com/VeriMarkSetup for complete instructions. Once the key is plugged into your computer, it will automatically install driver information into your computer and will be ready for set-up.
On the Kensington setup page, you will find three different options: Windows 10, Windows 7 & 8.1, and 2nd Factor Authentication. To start, you want to use the Windows 10 link (or the Windows 7 & 8.1 if that’s your system). The link will take you to a page that has step-by-step instructions. Since I have a Windows 10 enabled machine, that is the process I followed, but I did look at the instructions for the other versions of Windows and it’s a much more involved process. For the Windows 10 setup, you go to:
Start > Accounts > Sign-in Options > Fingerprint: Setup
Get Started > Enter Pin > Place & Lift your finger on the key until setup is complete
It’s a very similar process to Touch ID setup on iOS/macOS products so I was able to get this setup in just a few minutes. One thing I did notice is that when you go to log into your computer if you have Face Recognition turned out and active, it will sign you in before you have a chance to use the fingerprint key. I disabled that feature in order to use the VeriMark because I wanted to be able to use its other features.
After I finished the initial set-up, I then set-up sign on for Google and Dropbox. For instructions on how to do this, you visit the VeriMark set-up page and click on the ‘fido certified’ image. Basically, you end up turning on 2-factor authentication and then adding a key for each type of sign-on you want to use. Setting up 2-factor authentication can be a bear since you have to send yourself a code by text message (or another method) and go through a few extra steps in order to set it up. Once you do, you can then select to add a key. In this case, the key is the VeriMark. I found that to verify the key, you have to place your finger on it.
The VeriMark Fingerprint Key is an invaluable tool to add to your computer use needs. It utilizes a fairly headache-free installation and it works flawlessly — at least it has for me so far. I found that the key read my fingerprint within about a second — it was quicker than face recognition for signing on my laptop. I can recommend this device for additional security for your personal or work computers.
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Originally published at macsources.com on January 22, 2018.