IBM Canada wants to strengthen notebook security right down to your fingertip. That’s why the company its equipping select models of its ThinkPad T42, part of IBM’s Express line for small-to-medium size businesses, with an integrated fingerprint reader.

It’s the first time IBM will

offer such a feature, said Ryan Wires, national PCD sales specialist for IBM Canada.

ThinkPads already come standard with an embedded security chip carrying Entrust authentication software, but with new biomentric capability users can now just swipe a fingerprint instead of typing passwords for securted personal and financial data, Web site logins, and e-mail.

The biometric reader is located on the palm rest just below the arrow keys. Users must swipe a finger horizontally to trigger the sensor.

Software gives users control over what they want to protect. Right clicking the mouse brings up a menu for can encrypting or decrypting a file.

“People have between 20 and 40 passwords on average to remember,” said Wires. “In security, you have to make it difficult for the hackers, but also easy for the users and a biometric reader is a great authentication device,” he said.

The biometric reader requires the user to scan three times to register an image. It also allows the user to register any finger. “This is just in case you burn off your fingerprint. This way you can still can access the system,” Wires said.

There are no plans to add biometrics to all ThinkPad series, but Wires said that could change if there is customer demand.

The ThinkPad T42 with biometric reader sells for $2,339.

The product means resellers can now offer an integrated solution rather than a complex bundled product, said Wires, with the advantage of better support.

IBM also enhanced its hardware- and software-based Embedded Security Subsystem by releasing a new version of its Client Security Software with this notebook. The new version contains a secure password manager, which Wires said helps resellers better protect mobile systems.

Wires added that the biometric reader is just one aspect of security for IBM products. Under the ThinkVantage Technologies suite, IBM has produced a set of tools to better protect ThinkPads, desktops and servers.

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