Can Tokens And Smart Cards Boost Security? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Can Tokens And Smart Cards Boost Security?

Vendors promote new approaches, but it's unclear whether users will adopt them

When it comes to security, user names and passwords aren't getting the job done. And the threats are growing. The solution, security vendors say, is to make it more difficult to access business networks and applications, while still keeping procedures easy enough so users don't rise up in protest.

New approaches to more-secure access focus on smart cards and one-time password tokens, which add a second step to logging on to a network and gaining access to applications. Several vendors last week used the RSA Security Conference to introduce those kinds of products, which they say will improve business security. Smart cards are small devices that plug into a computer to help verify the identity of the user. Tokens can provide temporary one-time passwords that a user must key into a PC to gain access. These authentication devices usually are used in conjunction with passwords, but not always.



Security advances will provide a more seamless computing experience, Microsoft chairman Gates says.

Photo by Lou Dematteis/EPA/AP
These advances will provide "a safer and more seamless" computing experience, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said during his keynote speech at the conference.

RSA Security Inc., working with Microsoft, introduced tokens called SecurID for Microsoft Windows, which provide users with a temporary password every 60 seconds; the password is used with a secret personal-identification number to log on to Windows. SecurID is expected to be available later this year.

Also working with Microsoft is VeriSign Inc., which provides Internet authentication and directory services. It plans to offer a service to help companies manage the provisioning of authentication devices such as tokens and smart cards. The service will authenticate users over the Internet and support authentication devices from various vendors.

Some security vendors are adding new twists to USB tokens. Rainbow Technologies Inc. showed the RFiKey, a USB token with radio-frequency identification technology that can be used to access buildings as well as computer systems. Aladdin Knowledge Systems Inc. combined its eToken Pro USB smart card with an LCD-display for one-time passwords, so employees can use it to digitally sign documents and securely log on to their systems and applications.

The only way widespread adoption of strong authentication devices by businesses will take place is if the security industry moves away from proprietary management systems and agrees to an open architecture that smart-card and token manufacturers can design their gear to support, VeriSign chairman and CEO Stratton Sclavos says.

Security must improve, Gartner research director John Pescatore says. Businesses face increased threats from hackers using keystroke loggers to grab user names and passwords at Internet cafes and wireless hot-spots in airports and hotels, he says, and the user-name-password approach isn't effective enough to protect business systems, applications, and data. Says Pescatore, "It's an increasing problem, and corporations need to do something about it."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll