Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jeev Trika, ManageEngine IT Matters

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, will discuss recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model f...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...