As we all know, passwords are far from foolproof. So what are the alternatives when protecting desktops and laptops? And why are these options only ever used in a sporadic fashion?

One real alternative or supplement to security is fingerprint scanners. These are now becoming more and more commonplace with business laptops, and even some desktops, acting as a supplement to traditional password systems.

This recognition system is now often found even on machines targeting the consumer market, with several vendors also including the ability to use a smartcard authentication machine.

But given that these type of password authentication solutions are widely available in large parts on PCs, why don’t people use them?

One obvious reason is that not many organisations deem the security of their desktop and laptop machines a huge priority, or that they don’t know what form any security should take.

Some companies, who are particularly security conscious are starting to employ an additional form of security beyond the password. This usually comes in the form of a one-time-password system, such as a key-fob display.

Why do companies not use this form of security more often?

Some experts believe this is down to excellent marketing strategies by security companies, such as the one-time-password. Others believe that few users are happy to add extra authentication processes as it makes their log-on more complex.

The reality is, it’s because most people don’t understand the business requirements to secure their IT systems robustly.

Is it enough to just educate users on the importance of having the appropriate security?

Probably not. The trigger for the adoption of secondary security measures may eventually come when there’s a heavy increase in privacy regulations and other compliance and governance requirements – and those that don’t take the necessary steps will be putting their organisation at risk.