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News

PKI increasing in use for remote access security

TC TrustCenter : 15 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
Traditional username and password combinations for verifying user identity is starting to lose ground to Public Key Infrastruction according to TC TrustCenter survey
According to a recent survey commissioned by digital identity specialist TC TrustCenter, the combination of username and password remains to be the most commonly used authentication method for remote access. In the background, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is however making headway, showing real momentum as a means of granting remote access. In fact, the survey shows that 77% of German organisations use PKI as a preferred method for remote access security.

The survey, conducted by TC TrustCenter in August 2009, focuses on the handling of remote access security in German companies. Respondents included organisations from IT services, consulting, insurance, and utilities industries.

A key trend highlighted in the survey suggested that whilst the combination of username and password remains to be the most commonly used method of security for remote access, with 99% of respondents authenticating in this way, there is also an increasing use of digital certificates in the context of a PKI implementation. In fact, 77% of the interviewed companies already use a PKI within their organisation, and this is regularly applied instead of, or in conjunction with username/password for remote access.

The survey highlights that businesses see high-levels of security as a necessity when accessing data remotely. Other selection criteria which were depicted through the survey results as being essential to remote access security include low administrative overheads, access locking capabilities, and finally reasonably low training requirements. PKI users have been able to benefit from these functions as well as the ability to quickly and safely replace lost, defective or forgotten access tokens.

Although high levels of security were shown in the survey to be a primary concern, surprisingly, the majority of respondents reported that the business did not currently use strong access keys such as hardware tokens and Trusted Platform Modules (TPM). Instead, medium security methods such as digital keys and certificates proved more popular. Only 24% of respondents are currently using hardware tokens, and only 25% use TPM devices which are essentially crypto chips in a laptop which work like integrated smart card devices.

"The survey has shown that PKI is developing into a technology that has come of age and which is now a common feature of any modern IT workstation. The universal nature and the advanced integration of PKI systems with identity management systems, alongside the easy handling that comes with it, drives the increasing success of PKI, as is clearly indicated by the results of our survey." explains Stephanie Willemsen, Director Partner Management & Marketing at TC TrustCenter. "The current PKI trend also reinforces the idea that the security awareness has steadily improved over the past years."
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