Early last year our company began implementing a security system that covered physical entry into the building, timekeeping and network login. Our ID’s were printed on proximity cards that allowed us entry into the front door, and a fingerprint lock was put in place for timing in and out. Even our office issue laptops were on a biometric system so that we could login to the network without having to type in our passwords.

There had been discussions before on how effective this system was. We had asked why not use the biometrics even at the building entry, as it was still possible to swap cards with someone else and gain entry into rooms that you were not authorized into. The fingerprint lock was better because you certainly could not swap fingers with anyone, and although someone else might use his finger to let you into an area alone, your fingerprint will tell the tale when you tried to get out.

Yeah, but what if I hurt my nominated finger and I couldn’t use it to login? some of us wisecracked when the system was being setup. We were told that we were to swipe not just one but two fingers, with the second preferably on the other hand, in case the primary hand and fingers were incapacitated. As for the question of someone cutting off our finger and using that to gain entry into the building — it’s a bizarre notion, and besides, it wouldn’t work, because the biometric system detects the thin layer of saline liquid that resides between the living skin and the dead skin on a person’s fingertip. Ergo the system will not accept an amputated finger. It will also definitely not accept an “unknown” finger.

This was true for both our timekeeping system, and the biometrics on our laptops. One afternoon during Christmas break, I left my laptop open on my desk at home while I took a nap. I had dozed off for about thirty minutes when my daughter woke me up, forlornly holding up her tiny index finger, saying, “It’s too short, Mommy. It’s too short.” Not knowing what she was talking about I mumbled, “It’s ok, sweetie” and went back to sleep. Later that day I went back to my laptop to login but my finger slipped on the biometric strip and that’s when I saw the message on the screen: a red slash over a fingerprint and the words “Too short”

My daughter had tried to log herself into my laptop with her finger.

My password is my finger

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