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Biometrics: Helping 85,000 Children Remember Their Passwords

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Linda Kennard

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Posted: 9 May 2002

Novell Connection's Linda Kennard takes an in-depth look at how schools in Stockholm are beginning to use their student's fingerprints -- instead of passwords -- for authentication.

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Until recently, all of Stockholm's 85,000 students authenticated to the Stockholm Schools Data Network by entering their Novell eDirectory username and password at one of the network's 25,000 workstations. Stop right there and think for a moment about the frightening implications of that last sentence: 85,000 users--all under the age of 18--with passwords. As an administrator of adult network users, you can just imagine the types (and frequency) of problems that arise when you put passwords in the hands of children.

The good news is that the password problems in Stockholm's schools may soon come to an end. In fact, the problems already have ended at Kvarnbyskolan, a primary school for children ages 6 through 12.

Since February 2001, Kvarnbyskolan in Rinkeby, one of Stockholm's 18 boroughs (or counties), has been testing Novell Modular Authentication Service (NMAS) 1.0 ( and SAFmodule for NMAS 2.0 from SAFLINK Corp. (

The Novell/SAFLINK solution replaces password authentication to eDirectory with biometric authentication or, in this case, fingerprint authentication. What this means to the 450 students and teachers enrolled in this pilot program is that they no longer have to remember and enter a password to log in to the Stockholm Schools Data Network. Instead, they get scanned--or at least their index fingers do.

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