Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Charles Jolley, Carmen Gonzalez, Noel Wurst, David H Deans, Gilad Parann-Nissany

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
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. 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 wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...