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The Evolution of Tokenless Authentication

InfoSecurity Europe : 02 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
Andrew Kemshall of SecurEnvoy examines the tokens of the past and contemplates a future of tokenless (2FA) which could spell the end of token usage for identity verification
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Token authentication technology has evolved steadily since the 1970's. Beginning with Challenge Tokens, moving to time sync tokens, the driving factor has always been increased convenience for the end user.

This increased convenience is also the reason why token technology has endured for so long. For many years it has been convenient to carry a keyring token or other similar small device. As tokens evolved from challenge and response to time sync, the input required from end users when authenticating was lessened. This reduced pain for the end user left the time sync token as the standard authentication device for many years.

Moving into the 2000's, as mobile phone technology has become more prevalent throughout Europe and beyond, end users are now driving the move towards SMS based token authentication. Seeking even less pain and more convenience not to carry additional items and only requiring one password, the growth in SMS technology particularly in the UK and Europe has now lead to this method fast becoming the new standard for token based authentication with SecurEnvoy leading the way.

Time sync tokens were invented around the same time as VHS tapes, while SMS based tokenless technology emerged at a similar time to Blu-Ray. The development of VHS to Blu-Ray is simply technological evolution. In the same way, change from token to tokenless technology is inevitable

From the administrator's point of view, SMS Authentication has additional benefits including a faster deployment cycle, complete removal of the need to replaced failed devices, and the elimination of the cycle of replacement that with traditional tokens is required every 3-5 years.

Along with increased convenience for the end user, businesses now have compelling cost and environmental reasons to switch from hardware tokens to SMS token technology.

The total cost of ownership for SecurEnvoy's SMS tokens is up to 60% more cost effective than manufacturing, storing and providing an entire organisation with hardware tokens. This also helps organisations achieve their environmental targets by saving on their carbon footprint as a result of manufacturing fewer items. Just to distribute 3000 traditional tokens, requires 1673 trees to offset the emissions created. In addition there are toxic components used within the token so care must be taken when disposing of them. Tokenless authentication doesn't create any C02 emissions at all. Across Europe, a drive for organisations and governments to reduce their carbon footprint and costs means that every aspect of an IT infrastructure is reviewed. Hardware tokens are now one of the first areas that get replaced by non-physical products such as SMS, leading to very large cost and environmental savings.

These factors have led to a report by Goode Intelligence that "40% of organisations plan to deploy services that will enable employees to use their mobile phone as an authentication device by the end of 2011"

How the end user will benefit

The move to SMS based authentication has significant advantages to the end user. Patented breakthrough's in SMS delivery techniques pioneered by SecurEnvoy have resolved the typical problems with SMS Authentication. These previously included delays in SMS delivery, signal problems and mobile data issues on certain handsets.

Resolving these problems has provided the perfect solution for SMS Authentication that has contributed to a 100% growth year on year of SecurEnvoy's user base. Significant customers using SMS Authentication from SecurEnvoy include T-Mobile, Waitrose, Pizza Hut, the NHS and many other businesses from a variety of industries.

Our customers have been providing us with great feedback and testimonials following their successful migrations to tokenless authentication such as:

"One of the big selling points of SecurEnvoy was that it integrated easily with Active Directory, it was easy to deploy, and it sent out the tokens to a mobile phone. So we didn't need any physical tokens to distribute. That was a big plus, certainly,' he said.'SecurEnvoy also supported multiple Active Directories -- we operate across two Active Directories here at the council.' - Dundee County Council

The future is tokenless

SecurEnvoy continues to lead the way in the tokenless (2FA) (two-factor authentication) market. Our continued development and evolution of products means that we are fast becoming the standard for two factor authentication, using the uniqueness of our solution to replace traditional time sync tokens across Europe.

As we move into the next decade, the strive for increased convenience for the end user and the near 100% adoption rate of mobile phone technology will finally make hardware tokens obsolete. SecurEnvoy will be at the forefront of this market shift and with our continued development of new features, and further simplifying the end user experience, we are confident that we will be the market leader in two factor authentication for the decade ahead.

Tokenless SMS Authentication has established its self as the way forwards for the coming future. With help from SecurEnvoy tokenless authentication is set to be the 21st century winner for end users, technical teams, the environment and the IT budget.

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