Inventing X1 - Security

“I’m the Creeper, catch me if you can!”

Widely recognised as the first computer virus, Creeper appeared in the early 1970’s. More of an experimental program, the virus would alert users before it started messing with people’s printers in the office. Since then, PC viruses have significantly evolved and data security has become a major concern for companies around the world. Cybercrime is big business and recent high-profile attacks have only helped publicize the potential financial and status benefits for these criminals.

Are end users at risk?

With malware attacks on the rise and spyware, ransomware and phishing outbreaks becoming more and more sophisticated, it is no surprise that security experts estimate that up to 30% of personal computing devices have been targeted and worryingly as many as 35% of end users being unaware of these attacks.

We recently posted a blog highlighting the top 6 threats and offered some simple guidance on protection. In this blog, we will focus more specifically on biometric fingerprint readers in our ThinkPad portfolio and specifically the X1 series.

What does a fingerprint reader do?

Every person’s fingerprint is unique to them.

“A fingerprint is the pattern of ridges and related characteristics found on the fingerpads, the fleshy parts of the fingers used for touching and gripping. Each person's fingerprints are unique and stay unchanged throughout life. According to Sir Francis Galton, the nineteenth-century English anthropologist, the chances of two fingerprints being identical are as small as 64 billion to one. In over a century of forensic fingerprinting, no two prints have ever been found to be the same, even those of identical twins.”1

A fingerprint reader enables a person to use their unique print as a password to access their computing device. Many fingerprint readers will take an image of the print and match it to enrolled fingerprints within a software application. When the print is matched, the user is granted access. It’s a simple and user friendly way to add a security layer that offers both protection and ease of use, effectively replacing often complex passwords.

However, there is a small problem. Matching the users fingerprint in software leaves it vulnerable to malware attacks such as ransomware or Trojan horse.


Match on Chip Fingerprint Solution

Back in 2004, the ThinkPad T42 became the first notebook PC to include a built-in fingerprint reader. Since then, we have continued to upgrade and improve fingerprint technology and the user experience. The latest Match-on-Chip solution began as a joint effort involving the ThinkPad hardware, software and BIOS teams as well as Synaptics, the fingerprint sensor supplier. The objective was to design and integrate a new solution that conducts the image processing and matching securely on the sensor chip itself. This protects privacy and provides a more secure authentication solution by reducing the risk of fingerprint information being compromised.

This new biometric solution also provides customers with a full discrete Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM) solution that complies with Trusted Computing Group (TCG) certification.

To find out more about our ThinkPad X1 family, click here.


1 "Fingerprint Analysis (Famous Cases).World of Forensic Science. 19 Feb. 2017<>.