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MyFlash Fingerprint Disk FP1 Review

skinny    -   December 14, 2006


Installation

Installation on a computer running Windows 2000/ME/XP is quite simple. Plug the drive (with or without the included USB cord) into an available USB 2.0 port. When I did this, it seemed to take quite awhile for the computer to recognize the drive. I realized afterwards that unlike most USB drives which can simply be plugged in and used, there is software included on this drive that auto-installs. This is required in order for the fingerprint recognition to work. If you do not allow this software to install, you can not use the drive. For computers running Windows 98/98SE, you need to install from the included CD-ROM. Once the software is installed, you will see two new devices listed: APDisk and a Removable Disk. APDisk is where your programs are located, and Removable Disk is your storage location.
 
Once your programs are installed, you can begin to setup the fingerprint security system. A screen will pop up which shows the outline of two hands. Click on the first finger you wish to register. Swipe your chosen finger over the sensor. You may have to swipe several times before it locks in. Once that finger is complete, you can continue on with other fingers. These are the basic steps you need to use this drive.
(note: all photos displaying actual fingerprints have been blurred for security reasons)

 


There are other features that are included with this drive, some of which do require some setup. This drive has a very informative Help file that explains just how to use these other settings. This includes an email function, the ability to save your Internet Explorer Favorites and passwords on the drive, and the ability to encrypt files and directories on the hard drive of your system. Setting these features up is quite easy, and well explained by the Help file, so I won’t repeat it all here. I will explain the features with more detail later.
 
 

Testing

 
Basic testing of this drive involved me simply setting up the fingerprints and then trying simple tactics to beat it. I had other people try swiping their fingers. This did not work. I tried swiping my other fingers instead of the ones required. This did not work either. 
 
I tried swiping my finger while it was dirty. This either required extra swipes, or would not access at all. While the directions indicate that you should swipe your finger in a downward motion with your finger directly inline with the drive, I tried swiping my set-up fingers at different angles, finding that the drive accepted the prints straight, upside down, and at a 45 degree angle, but it would not read it if I tried swiping it with my finger perpendicular to the drive.
 
When you plug this drive into your computer, you are required to swipe your finger to be able to access the drive. The drive also has a setting in it that allows you to change the amount of time that print is “active”. It is designed so that if you leave your computer for a set amount of time or more, the fingerprint deactivates, making the drive secure again. This can be set to any user-defined amount of time. If your print has deactivated, you simply re-swipe your finger to once again access your information.
 
The IE Autologin feature saves your login and password for websites. It actually adds an option into your Explorer menu to save your login. Simply go to a website of your choosing, fill in your details, and before hitting enter, select IE Autologin from the menu. Then, when you enter your details, it saves them on to your flash drive. The next time you wish to enter that site, simply open the IE Autologin function in your flash drive menu, and it will show you a list of sites with saved passwords. Select the site you want to access, and it will open that site in a new Internet Explorer window. After several seconds, your details will auto-fill, and you are then logged in. I tried several websites, and this worked for all of them. This only works with Internet Explorer, so people using Firefox and other browsers are out of luck with this feature.
 
Another Internet Explorer-only function is the ability to save your Favorites list on the drive. This way, when switching from computer to computer, you have access to your entire bookmark list. It is very straightforward: when you want to access a site, you simply open that feature on the menu, and it will bring up the list of Favorites that you have saved. Select the page you want to view, and it will open it in an Internet Explorer window.
 
The Flashmail feature allows you to save all of your email accounts on the drive, and open those drives from other computers using the drive’s built-in email viewer. The program can automatically take your email addresses from Outlook Express, or you can manually add them. You can also import your address book from Outlook.
 
In order to encrypt your files, simply open Windows Explorer, select the file or directory you wish to encrypt, right-click on it, and select “Encrypt File”. To regain access to it, right-click and select “Decrypt File”. Pretty simple. Once a file is encrypted, you can still access it without decrypting as long as your fingerprint is still active. If your print is not active, then you can not access the file. Thumbnails of encrypted photos and videos are changed to the generic display picture for whatever file type is encrypted. All encrypted files and directories are indicated by a small red lock image on the bottom right of the file icon. Encrypting large files and directories can take quite some time, but a simple image file can be encrypted in a matter of seconds. The file name of the encrypted file does not change.
 
Now, for the good stuff. I enlisted the help of a Law Enforcement Fingerprint Expert. Together, we tried many different ways to beat this sensor. I will not go into full details, as some of the techniques and materials that we used are still considered to be “security sensitive”, but we were unable to defeat the sensor. Our testing involved simulating my fingerprint on various materials including paper, plastic, and various rubber and clay-type substances. Some of it was quite “CSI”, but we stopped short of going full on “Myth-Busters”, because we did not have the time nor money to invest in this testing. I am quite confident that the average person will not be able to defeat this security feature.
 
Before I could get to the benchmark testing, I ran into an issue. It was quite a large issue, actually. I began to get the following error message:
 
I tried the device on several different systems, and got the same message every time. Attempts to contact the supplier went unanswered. Internet searches failed to locate a fix. So, I now have a nice fancy USB drive that has some important files locked away, with no way for me to access them. I am glad they are copies, and not vitally important.  I waited until all the testing was completed before doing screen captures of the testing of the included programs.  Because the drive died on me, I was unable to obtain those screen shots.  I apologize, but I simply was not expecting to have such a catastrophic failure.



  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Installation and Testing
  3. Conclusion
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