Gridsure finds global deal for its pattern-based authentication

Following a licensing agreement with CryptoCard Inc., Cambridge-based GrIDsure Ltd. has received a major boost for its pattern-based authentication.

Cambridge-based Gridsure Ltd. has received a major boost for its pattern-based authentication technology following a licensing agreement with CryptoCard Inc.

Under the deal, Gridsure technology will be incorporated into the next release of CryptoCard's authentication platform, providing Gridsure with a global market for its product. CryptoCard is a major player in authentication, and has thousands of customers in more than 70 countries.

Gridsure's alternative to hardware tokens works by sending users a grid of characters, usually 5x5 or 7x7, which is generated as a one-time code. Each user has their own individual pattern of squares committed to memory -- this could be in the shape of a cross, a tick, or the four corner squares and the one in the centre. They enter the characters displayed in their chosen pattern in order to authenticate themselves.

The pattern-based authentication technology will be integrated into the next release of CryptoCard's BlackShield ID solution, which will launch in January 2010.

Neil Hollister, chief executive of CryptoCard, said his company has been offering hardware tokens for many years, but had been looking for a technology that would be inexpensive and easy to use in mass-market applications.

"There are a number of solutions around with applications like Gridsure that let you present a picture with some characters in them, but we think Gridsure wins on usability, and we think it's more secure than some of the others we looked at," Hollister said.

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"We have demoed a beta version of our product to a variety of institutions, from government to enterprise, and there is a lot of enthusiasm for it."

Stephen Howes, chief executive of Gridsure, said: "Everyone tells us they can't afford to run with token-based solutions. The total cost of ownership of the hardware is cost-prohibitive. They have more staff who want to have remote access, and are demanding it."

He said new government legislation will give employees with children under 16 the right to ask to work from home, which will further raise demand for remote access. In addition, he said, companies are looking at remote control as part of their contingency planning in the event of a swine flu epidemic.

"There is a huge opportunity for Gridsure around the world, but we can only reach that market through IP licensing," Howes said. "CryptoCard has credibility in the marketplace, and the reach, so it makes more sense for us to work with people with them."

The Gridsure technology will initially be available in what he called a "1.5 factor" authentication model, with the grid of numbers delivered directly to the laptop screen of the user. Later versions may deliver the gird to a separate device such as a smartphone.

Bob Tarzey, an analyst with research firm Quocirca Ltd., said the partnership was a good move. "A little company like Gridsure needs some big partners, and CryptoCard is identified with strong authentication and is a much bigger company. It is a powerful endorsement for Gridsure, so well done to them for getting a partner like that on board," he said.

"Gridsure's technology is a pretty secure form of authentication. The grid is generated simultaneously on the target IT system and on the device you are using, using a key based on the current time. So there is no way it can be predicted. It is quite clever."

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