RSA Security is poised to offer businesses a range of lower-cost alternatives to traditional two-factor authentication tokens, in a move that could accelerate the replacement of passwords with more secure authentication.
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The firm last week unveiled a range of products designed to cut the cost of deploying strong authentication by incorporating two-factor technology into mobile phones, laptop computers, memory sticks and desktop PCs.
Last year, Gartner predicted that passwords would reach the end of their useful life during 2007, forcing businesses to move to two-factor authentication.
Companies have so far been slow to deploy the technology because of its cost and complexity, but RSA claims that incorporating two-factor authentication into other devices will significantly cut the cost of deploying and managing two-factor tokens.
"It will reduce the cost of acquisition because businesses are not buying another device," said RSA vice-president John Worral. "But more importantly, it removes the cost of managing another credential. By using a device that you have already got, you take out a huge amount of complexity."
The initiative has attracted interest from firms such as US oil giant Chevron, which last year embarked on a programme to replace passwords for 70,000 employees worldwide with smartcards and RSA smart tokens.
RSA has already confirmed deals with a number of suppliers - including Microsoft, SanDisk, Motorola, Red Cannon and M-Systems - to incorporate RSA's two-factor authentication technology into software and devices.
The company has also unveiled a secure ID toolbar that plugs into web browsers to offer two-factor authentication from a PC.
RSA said the technology was attracting interest from internet banks, which see it as a low-cost alternative to secure ID tokens for online banking customers, and from businesses for securing portals used to share information with their clients and partners.