Review: Eikon Digital Privacy Manager

Protect your computer from prying eyes with a finger. (February 7th, 2008)

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: UPEK Incorporated

Price: $49.99 US

The Good

  • Very reliable. Solid construction. Versatile implementation of using reader or password. Good value.

The Bad

  • Must download Mac software until new package is available.

Biometric sensing equipment is quite common on the Windows platform. Biometrics can be described as the science of recognizing a person based on his or her physiological or behavioral traits. Unfortunately, most of these options aren't very secure, as they do not encrypt information that passes between the reader and the computer. This makes the devices more of a convenience, rather than a security solution. The Eikon Digital Privacy Manager is one of the few devices that work with the Macintosh to provide users with an encrypted and versatile security device.

Fingerprint Security

The Biometric sensing device scans your fingerprint, which negates the need to type in your passwords to access your computer, Keychain, and other security preferences. In addition, using your fingerprint to unlock passwords means that you can use passwords that are more complex without needing to remember each one. According to Utek, "The fingerprint hardware in turn creates a mathematical representation of the fingerprint that is stored and can later be used to authenticate the user to preserve their privacy."

Protector Suite Software

The USB peripheral Eikon Digital Privacy Manager is a fingerprint reader, which works with their Protector Suite for Mac software. The package received at Macworld was not quite ready for prime time. The blister pack included a Mac sticker pasted over the Windows logo on the front of the package, with a note that the Macintosh software is available for download on the site. The software in this initial packaging is Windows-only. New packaging should be available soon.

The installation and setup are straightforward. The download includes an installer that puts the Protector Suite in your applications folder. You install the software, connect the reader, and scan your fingers three times to enable the fingerprint reader.

The Hardware

The well designed and constructed Eikon Digital Privacy Manager chassis doesn't creak when pressing hard, and it is heavy enough to stay put even with a kinked USB cable. The bottom of the reader is coated with a grippy rubber texture that prevents the unit from sliding around on a surface. The Eikon can track up to ten fingers per person.

I successfully scanned all of my fingers without any issues, and I haven't had any problems using the reader to authenticate system actions. The reader uses biometric scanning for any authentication screen, such as login windows and software installation windows. The Eikon read my fingerprint correctly every time, and did not approve any of the five people I enlisted to attempt a scan.

Upek screen


Training the Eikon Digital Privacy Manager


After using the Eikon biometrics reader for several weeks, I think it is a reliable option for those who insist on using FileVault. Most Mac experts recommend not using FileVault, because if you forget your password, you have no workaround to access your data, and it's gone for good. The Eikon solves the problem of remembering that important password. You can also configure the software and choose whether access to the system requires input from the reader, a password, or both, which provides a different options, depending on security and intent.

Give Your Mac the Finger

The Eikon Digital Privacy Manager is a good choice for secure Mac environments, as it works reliably with one or many users, depending on the configuration. It also works well for people who do not like to type or cannot type for some reason. For environments that use FileVault, it adds a certain amount of comfort because it is a lot harder to lose a finger than to forget a password.

Editor's Note

There is much information on the web as to just how secure fingerprint scanners and associated software is in an environment that demands high security. A number of white papers specify spoofing techniques and ways to break into computers that use fingerprint technology. You should do your homework if you plan to use biometric technology in a data sensitive environment. The Eikon is marketed as a home user solution.

by Galen Wood with ilene Hoffman


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