Simple Technology tackles complex security market

Concord, Ont.-based Simple Technology Inc. has created a no charge biometrics authorized solution provider program to help attract more channel partners who specialize in vertical markets such as federal government, point of sale, healthcare,

legal and financial.

Simple Technology has been providing keyboards and other peripheral products as a focused distributor for the past 18 years. The company branched off into biometric security eight years ago only to find slow and steady acceptance in the market place. That was before the tragedies on Sept. 11, 2001. Suddenly biometrics became a buzzword in the industry, but Brian Muir, vice-president business development for Simple, believes the real security concerns are centred on passwords.

“”There are too many passwords for people to handle,”” he said. “”People do not remember them and it opens themselves up to a breach.””

Muir cited several studies to back up his claim. For example, 71 per cent of London office workers were willing to reveal their computer passwords in exchange for a chocolate bar, according to an InfoSecurity Europe study.

A Microsoft study found that 48 per cent of help desk calls in organizations of 10,000 employees or more are password related.

The problem with passwords is that people write them down and leave it near the computer, he said. IT administration staff since 9/11 have increasingly made passwords more difficult for people forcing them to reset passwords more often and choose complex alphanumeric combinations. This has led to people continuing to write down passwords, he said. Or they use simple passwords such as birth date or son/daughter name, Muir added.

“”For someone who wants to hack in it will be a quick hack if it’s just protected by a password.””

Simple’s new partner program offers full use of all company marketing material along with live training programs for sales. With that Simple trainers can educate VAR staff either at their facility or at the distributor, Muir said.

The program also offers referral of pre-qualified sales leads, joint partner sales calls and account development, product development updates, advantage pricing and evaluation pricing.

Another hurdle Simple wants to overcome with this program is the VAR’s sense of insecurity about the fingerprint itself. Muir insists the biometrics technology only stores the data from the print and not the print itself.
According to Muir, the biometrics industry does not approve the term “”fingerprint””. The reason is the algorithm of various biometrics solutions extracts unique features of the fingerprint such as minutia points. With that the biometrics solution creates a template and discards the fingerprint image altogether. “”We do not store finger prints,”” Muir said. The biometrics industry in not interested in reengineering fingerprint images because they want to ensure privacy, Muir added.

Currently, Simple has less than 100 biometrics focused VARs. He said the company wants that base to grow. Simple has already helped to shorten the sales cycle. Muir said, 18 months ago the biometrics sales cycle was typically six months. Today it has been cut down to eight weeks, he said.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that global biometric market revenues will increase from US$303.3 million in 2003 to projected revenues of US$3.5 billion by 2009.

But, biometrics for resellers can be a door opener for other solutions such as database, networks, firewalls, and storage and archiving, which would increase the amount of margin a reseller can make.

“”We are one part of the total solution VARs can offer, but we are a major part,”” he said.

Simple’s biometrics line up is in three areas: IT logical access where the distributor features solutions from Digital Persona Inc., Identix Inc. and Saflink Corp., physical access with products from Bioscrypt Inc. and Identix and portable storage with Memory Experts International, the makers of the Clip Drive and newly signed Trekstor USA Inc.

Margins on these products range from 18 to 30 per cent, he said.

“”Right now VARs look at this and say the margins are good but I do not know a lot about it and we should focus on core products,”” he said.

There are several types of unique biometrics solutions that VARs can implement, he added. For example, one VAR has installed a biometrics solution at school cafeterias to help parents pre-pay for their child’s lunches. The children just have to ID themselves with their fingerprint and then they can select what the want to eat from the menu. This solution curtails children from spending parent’s money on non-food items or it being stolen by the school bully.

Also fast food restaurants such as Harvey’s and Dairy Queen use biometrics for audit trails of all transactions.

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