RSA Mobile offers Web site authentication by phone

From next month, users of Web sites and corporate networks can authenticate their identities with their mobile phones.

From next month, users of Web sites and corporate networks can authenticate their identities with their mobile phones.

RSA's latest product, RSA Mobile, consists of a server-side software component and a link to a GSM mobile phone network for the transmission of SMS (Short Message Service) text messages. No extra hardware or software is needed.

Visitors to a Web site equipped with RSA Mobile enter their username and password in the usual way. The system then searches for the mobile phone number associated with each user name, and sends a one-time access code in an SMS to the mobile phone. The user then types the access code to log in.

Future versions of the software could be developed to deliver access codes by e-mail, or to other portable communications devices such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry.

RSA has carried out trials of the system in the UK, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the US, although it has not yet built an interface between RSA Mobile and the Japanese I-mode mobile data service. Japanese mobile networks do not offer the same support for SMS as the GSM networks used elsewhere in Asia, in Europe and in the Americas.

Pricing for the RSA Mobile software will be announced on 4 September. Pricing for the link to the mobile phone network, and transmission of the messages containing the access codes, must be negotiated with the network operator.

Large organisations such as banks probably already have a direct link with a preferred mobile network operator, perhaps for notifying customers by SMS of their account balances.

Smaller organisations may choose to negotiate such a direct link with the network operator, but another option is to turn to intermediaries such as Red Message in Sweden, which specialise in linking businesses and mobile networks.

RSA Mobile is aimed at enterprises for use by their employees or their customers, although network operators or service providers could use this as a managed service.

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