Give Hackers the Finger

Desktop security becomes a pointed exercise.

Remembering — and forgetting — passwords can be a pain, especially when you have to keep track of a dozen or more. American Power Conversion Corp.'s clever Biometric Password Manager seeks to solve that problem.

The matchbox-sized Biopod ($49.99 at http://buy.apc.com) records your fingerprint along with credentials for pertinent applications or Web sites. When your email program or brokerage site asks you to log in, just rest your finger on the scanner. If it matches, a green icon flashes on the screen and you're in. Setup is simple, and performance is reliable. (Several coworkers tried to be me, without success.)

The Biopod's only real drawback is that it can be used only with PCs. But it compensates with its ability to handle more than one user name and password per Web site. If you have two Yahoo email accounts, the Biopod smoothly switches from one to the other.

Well, there is one more flaw: AuthenTec, which provides the scanner pad, claims the device can work even with sweaty digits — but we found otherwise. Any moisture on your finger and you'll be denied access. But it's a lot easier to carry around a napkin than a dozen passwords.

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