Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Authentication - An Update

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman Wick Hill Group, looks at the current state of authentication and examines the solutions on offer from two companies in Gartner's Magic Quadrant.

123456. Amazingly, surveys show that this is the most popular password for authentication. And simple passwords are still the most used authentication method. However, popularity, in this case, just doesn't equate with success.

Security breaches are becoming a daily occurrence and high profile companies such as Yahoo, Target and Tesco are just some of the famous names amongst the victims of password theft.

Recently, on a Netherlands server, researchers discovered compromised credentials for more than 93,000 websites, including 318,000 Facebook accounts, 70,000 Gmail, Google+ and YouTube accounts, 60,000 Yahoo accounts, 22,000 Twitter accounts and 8,000 LinkedIn accounts.

However, instances like these represent just a fraction of the organisations suffering from password theft. The majority do not publicise the fact, as there is no requirement to notify anyone, nor have they been publicly 'outed.'

So we have a long established way of doing things, that is proven on a daily basis to be inadequate and insecure, yet the majority of companies still use it. How long will this state of affairs last? Will we see another decade of consistent, repetitive authentication failures?

Probably not, because the Darwin principle applies. Those affected by password theft will either come up to the mark, and improve their authentication, or decline and go out of business.

Moreover, strong authentication is on a high growth curve, driven by the multiple waves of change rolling across organisations, both small and large.

Recent developments in computing have led to increasingly fractured and distributed networks, which are harder to protect.

These developments include the growth of mobile computing, remote access, tablets, smartphones and BYOD, together with the increasing popularity of wireless, the cloud, virtualisation and social networking. Alongside this, there has been a rapid growth of data, meaning there is even more to protect than ever before.

Authentication is the most basic step towards protecting networks and while passwords still have a role, that role is increasingly as part of a multi-factor authentication process.

Other forces driving the move towards strong authentication include the increasing pressures on companies to achieve security compliance, with the consequences of failure including hefty ICO fines and possible reputational damage.

Greater press coverage of computer security failures, such as the insecurity of mobiles devices and smartphones, has also had an effect, creating more visibility of the problems.

Authentication types - benefits and disadvantages
Getting the right kind of authentication needs careful thought. A key question is "Is the authentication method something that staff can use relatively easily?" Get something too complicated and you could have problems.

Another key issue is using the right level of authentication. Do you need different levels for different staff, for different applications, for different departments? Is your authentication method flexible enough to cope with that? Broadly speaking, users are looking for authentication methods that provide the best combination of ease-of-use, security, and, of course, cost. Currently, the main options are:

  • weak single-factor authentication (passwords)
  • strong complex passwords, usually with a minimum of characters, including special characters, and recommended to be regularly changed
  • strong two-factor authentication (passwords + something else, such as a token)
  • strong three-factor authentication (passwords + something else, such as a soft token + a mobile phone).

Weak single factor authentication (passwords)
This is the use of single static passwords, still the most common form of authentication and used by most organisations. However, companies are increasingly aware that even if they continue with passwords for part of their workforce, there are employee types such as power workers, knowledge workers, mobile workers and remote workers, where proof of identity is important.

Any password system not collecting and storing passwords in a secure (encrypted) format is fundamentally vulnerable.

Encrypted passwords
While encrypted passwords are more secure than simple passwords, and superficially secure, they are actually at risk of attack by various methods, such as brute force attacks, dictionary attacks and rainbow tables.

Strong complex passwords
That's what many of us use to access our secure online areas and are used in companies to overcome the disadvantages of weak passwords. They need to be not only strong, and typically including special characters or numbers, but also different for different applications, and changed regularly.

Strong complex passwords, when encrypted, are significantly less vulnerable to rainbow tables and similar methods. They are however vulnerable, as many users employ the same passwords for social and online sites as for their business.

Strong authentication
Strong authentication involves one of a range of elements such as hardware tokens, soft tokens, fingerprint recognition, swipe cards and phone as a token, or phone as a recipient of a soft token. Most strong authentication deployments are used together with passwords (two-factor authentication).

Strong two-factor authentication
Strong two factor authentication is a much more secure means of authenticating users onto networks, as it requires two separate security elements.

It comprises something you know (a password) and something you have, e.g. a token, which generates a one-time password (OTP) or a fingerprint. Software and hardware tokens are currently the most popular two-factor solutions, due to their low cost, ease- of-deployment, ease-of-management and the standard of security they provide.

According to Gartner*, hardware tokens still have the largest installed base of any method (70%). In the last few years, however, there has been a move towards the deployment of other types of tokens, including mobile phones, and hardware USBs, such as SafeStick or Ironkey.

The rapid fall in the price of tokens means they are now available from only a few pounds per user per year. That is less than the cost of ONE password-related helpdesk call, so tokens can represent a major cost-saving, as well as an improvement in security.

Strong three factor authentication
This is far superior and involves something you know (e.g. password), something you have (e.g. authentication token) and something you are (e.g. fingerprint, retinal scan, facial recognition). While biometric authentication is obviously more costly and complicated to use, it is appropriate for high security applications/departments such as pharmaceutical R&D, finance, etc.

Trends
Contextual authentication
Contextual authentication is growing, but not yet mainstream. It uses contextual information (such as users' behaviour patterns) to decide whether a user is genuine. It can improve on the use of a password, without the need for traditional two factor strong authentication.

Mobile devices can play a significant role in contextual authentication. They can capture relevant contextual information such as tapping rhythm, voice recognition, facial contours, and iris details.

A strategic view
A growing trend amongst enterprises is to take a more strategic view of authentication. Companies are acknowledging they may need different levels of authentication for different scenarios, different users and different applications. They are looking for one flexible authentication method which can facilitate these different levels. Currently, however, most enterprises and SMEs still tend to use a single authentication method.

The Cloud
The popularity of the cloud should be noted, with researchers predicting that by year-end 2016, about 30% of enterprises will choose cloud-based services as their delivery option for new or refreshed user authentication implementations - up from about 10% today.

Mobile devices
Smartphones and mobile devices are playing a growing part in the authentication scenario. They are already widely used as authentication tokens; they function as fairly powerful computers and are an endpoint in themselves, so need protecting; and they can be used for biometric and contextual authentication.

Two authentication market leaders
Two of the leaders in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for User Authentication* are VASCO and SafeNet.

VASCO
VASCO is a well-known name in authentication and has one of the widest ranges of authentication methods currently available. The company is very strong in the financial sector, government, enterprises and e-commerce, with solutions for companies from SMEs up to the largest enterprises.

Gartner* says VASCO has a "very strong position in this market" and calls the company "a very strong innovator."

Authentication platforms include IDENTIKEY (server software), IDENTIKEY Virtual Appliance, IDENTIKEY Appliance (a hardware appliance), IDENTIKEY Federation Server (a higher end server appliance), DIGIPASS as a Service (private cloud service), and MYDIGIPASS.COM (public cloud service).

IDENTIKEY Server
This is an authentication software suite for organisations of all sizes, with centralised user management, web-based administration, multi-platform support and enhanced reporting features. It verifies authentication requests and centrally administers user authentication policies.

IDENTIKEY Appliance
This is a standalone authentication appliance that secures remote access to corporate networks and web-based applications. It can be used in an unlimited number of applications across a variety of fields, such as online applications, banking applications, enterprise security and remote access.

SMEs
One solution for small businesses from VASCO is DIGIPASS Pack for Remote Authentication. This is an out-of-the-box solution which combines all necessary hardware and software to provide a high level of security to organisations with limited resources and budgets.

Authentication tokens
VASCO offers a very wide range of authentication tokens, with the brand name DIGIPASS, including DIGIPASS Software, DIGIPASS Hardware and DIGIPASS Readers

Go to http://www.wickhill.com/products/vendors/detail/27/Vasco for further information and case studies.

SAFENET
Gartner* says that SafeNet "demonstrated a very sound market understanding, as well as very strong product strategy and innovation." Gartner also says "SafeNet has a strong position in this market…"

SafeNet itself says it has a vision to make two-factor authentication universally available and that it provides inexpensive, easy-to-use, innovative solutions to a large range of clients, worldwide. Clients are in business, government and non-profit organisations.

SafeNet solutions include:
SafeNet Authentication Service
An SaaS (software-as-a service) based authentication platform. This solution comes in four types: a cloud-based service for enterprises, a cloud service for service providers, an onsite solution for enterprises, and an onsite solution for service providers.

It has been designed, says SafeNet, to make two-factor authentication easy to implement and manage. Features include a comprehensive degree of automation to drastically reduce the cost of management, administration, tokens that do not expire and a comprehensive self-service portal that allows users to carry out many functions that would traditionally only have been resolved by the help desk.

SafeNet authentication tokens
SafeNet supports a very broad range of authentication methods and form factors including: OTP hardware and software tokens, OOB, hybrid tokens and phone tokens for all mobile platforms. SafeNet's authentication platform supports a wide variety of 3rd party tokens, such as those from RSA.

Go to http://www.wickhill.com/products/vendors/detail/16/SafeNet for further info and case studies.

ENDS

* Gartner Magic Quadrant for User Authentication, December 2013. Analyst Ant Allan.

Source: RealWire

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By RealWire News Distribution

RealWire is a global news release distribution service specialising in the online media. The RealWire approach focuses on delivering relevant content to the receivers of our client's news releases. As we know that it is only through delivering relevance, that influence can ever be achieved.

Latest Stories
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science" is responsible for guiding the technology strategy within Hitachi Vantara for IoT and Analytics. Bill brings a balanced business-technology approach that focuses on business outcomes to drive data, analytics and technology decisions that underpin an organization's digital transformation strategy.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IoT Global Network has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The IoT Global Network is a platform where you can connect with industry experts and network across the IoT community to build the successful IoT business of the future.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...