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
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo 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 to w...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
IBM helps FinTechs and financial services companies build and monetize cognitive-enabled financial services apps quickly and at scale. Hosted on IBM Bluemix, IBM’s platform builds in customer insights, regulatory compliance analytics and security to help reduce development time and testing. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Lennart Frantzell, a Developer Advocate with IBM, will discuss how these tools simplify the time-consuming tasks of selection, mapping and data integration, allowing devel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
Why Federal cloud? What is in Federal Clouds and integrations? This session will identify the process and the FedRAMP initiative. But is it sufficient? What is the remedy for keeping abreast of cutting-edge technology? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rasananda Behera will examine the proposed solutions: Private or public or hybrid cloud Responsible governing bodies How can we accomplish?
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.