NASA testing biometrics over Internet

NASA will begin testing the Internet this month as a means for sending and authenticating the biometrics information of NASA officials who access secure network servers from remote locations.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland wants its technicians and scientists to be "biometrically authenticated from the road or home," said David Teitelman, president and chief executive officer of eTrue Inc., the company setting up the system.

A Goddard official said the technology will be applied to "mission operations" at the center but not to any specific program.

"We're just evaluating the biometrics they have," the official said.

Although remote access of networks is hardly new, security-conscious agencies require the use of a personal identification number or password — both of which are vulnerable to theft or sophisticated cracking. But biometrics authentication — in Goddard's case, fingerprinting and facial recognition — cannot be stolen or forged.

And anyone attempting to hack into a NASA system will have his or her own biometric characteristics logged and recorded, according to Teitelman, whose company is supplying the hardware and software to build the biometrics database and will maintain the data on its servers.

He said the testing will go on for about 60 days, after which NASA may decide to retain and expand its use of the technology.

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