RSA hack is a timely reminder of the need for richer authentication

Last week’s admission by RSA that they had been the victim of a sophisticated espionage hack that could reduce the effectiveness of its authentication SecurID product, reminds us of the danger of placing too much reliance on a single authentication mechanism.

Given the relentless and sophisticated nature of today’s advanced persistent threat attacks, organizations with secrets to protect require richer authentication processes, based not only on “what you know and have”, but also “where and what you’re coming from”.

One overlooked feature that is relative easy to implement is device authentication, ensuring that only known devices to connect to sensitive assets. Security managers have been surprisingly slow to catch on to this countermeasure, despite the fact that’s it’s been successfully used to deter threats to mobile phones and set top boxes.     

Virtually every professional grade laptop is fitted with a trusted platform module (TPM) that enables strong, automatic authentication of connected devices. CISOs should take a look at this option. It’s easy to implement and provides a vital layer of protection from any attackers that might steal your passwords and hack your tokens.    

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