BA adopts voice-based secure intranet system

British Airways is in the process of rolling out a secure access management project in a bid to give employees and suppliers...

British Airways is in the process of rolling out a secure access management project in a bid to give employees and suppliers access to the company's intranet and extranet systems.

The implementation is the first part of a two-stage multi-million pound e-business initiative to slash the airline's administration costs which went live last September.

The system is based on Secureway Policy Director, an access control product developed by IBM subsidiary Tivoli. When fully deployed it will benefit tens of thousands of users.

Under the second part of the project BA will introduce voice-activated authentication software as a new option for users.

The system will make a wide range of information and services available to staff and business partners over the corporate intranet, while allowing the company to securely manage the access rights of users with diverse needs.

Dominic Steinitz, head of information security at the airline, said the project would make information available to staff on the intranet, regardless of their location.

"We wanted people to be able to access information from wherever they are, whether that's the crew getting roster information, or cargo staff, or office-based staff working off-site, but we wanted to be able to control that access," he said.

Staff receive a secure identity token, similar to a key fob. This has a screen on which displays a number that changes every minute. The token is synchronised with the central server.

To access the intranet or extranet, an end-user must type in the current number shown on the tag, then enter a six-digit Pin code. This provides a double layer of security, Steinitz said.

There are already more than 2,000 users with secure access to the system, but the number is increasing daily and the company is looking to roll out the programme to its 30,000 suppliers and handling agents by the end of the year, BA said.

The second phase of the project, to be deployed this autumn, involves voice-activated authentication as an alternative to the token.

Steinitz said that during the summer the airline will run a voice-recognition pilot project with 300 users in an initiative to be rolled out in the autumn.

"The key fob is relatively expensive but the advantage of voice-activated access is that it is cheap," he said.

Hazel Ward
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