One-time password systems provide a mechanism for logging on to a network or service using a unique password which can only be used once, as the name suggests. This prevents some forms of identity theft by making sure that a captured user name/password pair cannot be used a second time. Typically the users logon name stays the same, and the one-time password changes with each logon. One-time passwords are a form of so-called strong authentication, providing much better protection to on-line bank accounts, corporate networks and other systems containing sensitive data.
Today most enterprise networks, e-commerce sites and online communities require only a user name and static password for logon and access to personal and sensitive data. Although this authentication method is convenient, it is not secure because online identity theft – using phishing, keyboard logging, man-in-the-middle attacks and other methods – is increasing throughout the world.
Strong authentication systems address the limitations of static passwords by incorporating an additional security credential, for example, a temporary one-time password (OTP), to protect network access and end-users’ digital identities. This adds an extra level of protection and makes it extremely difficult to access unauthorized information, networks or online accounts.
One-time passwords can be generated in several ways and each one has trade-offs in term of security, convenience, cost and accuracy. Simple methods such as transaction numbers lists and grid cards can provide a set of one-time passwords. These methods offer low investment costs but are slow, difficult to maintain, easy to replicate and share, and require the users to keep track of where they are in the list of passwords.
A more convenient way for users is to use an OTP token which is a hardware device capable of generating one-time passwords. Some of these devices are PIN-protected, offering an additional level of security. The user enters the one-time password with other identity credentials (typically user name and password) and an authentication server validates the logon request. Although this is a proven solution for enterprise applications, the deployment cost can make the solution expensive for consumer applications. Because the token must be using the same method as the server, a separate token is required for each server logon, so users need a separate token for each Web site or network they use.
More advanced hardware tokens use microprocessor-based smart cards to calculate one-time passwords. Smart cards have several advantages for strong authentication including data storage capacity, processing power, portability, and ease of use. They are inherently more secure than other OTP tokens because they generate a unique, non-reusable password for each authentication event, store personal data, and they do not transmit personal or private data over the network.
Smart cards can also include additional strong authentication capabilities such as PKI, or Public Key Infrastructure certificates. When used for PKI applications, the smart card device can provide core PKI services, including encryption, digital signature and private key generation and storage
Gemalto smart cards support OTP strong authentication in both Java™ and Microsoft .NET environments. Multiple form factors and connectivity options are available so that end-users have the most appropriate device for their individual network access requirements. All Gemalto OTP devices work with the same Strong Authentication Server and are supported with a common set of administrative tools.
Implementing enterprise-wide strong authentication is critical in today’s word of increasing cyber insecurity. As hackers get smarter and intrusions get more widespread and more damaging, no enterprise
can depend on old school protocols to keep their data, networks and people safe. User names and passwords have been the trusty lock on the front door for decades, but they’re no longer secure enough. With more than 90 percent of organizations reportedly being breached, you can’t afford to be caught off guard. A breach can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and do irreversible damage to your reputation.
Public Key Infrastructure or PKI is a well-known security protocol used by top enterprises, defense departments and governments around the world. Increased use of cloud-based services and the Internet of Things (IoT) are prompting a surge in PKI adoption. But even though PKI technology has been around for years and is widely used, especially in security-minded organizations, there remains a hesitance when it comes to undertaking an enterprise-wide deployment.
Why do you need PKI?
PKI is military-grade security, so you’re assured of the highest protection of your sensitive documents and authentication of your users. But PKI is so much more.
Additional security functionalities: With PKI, you can encrypt data, disk, and email, as well as digitally sign. These functions are becoming increasingly important as companies need to protect digital file exchange and encrypt content to prevent hackers from intercepting communications.
Optimized authentication and cost savings: Password management is costly. PKI eliminates the need for users to remember long, complex passwords that they will need to change frequently. A single credential will give users access to multiple applications. In addition, it’s much more cost effective to have a single solution that includes multiple functions than adding each separately.
Improved business processes: Eliminating password protocols will reduce helpdesk calls and overall IT overhead. And with a certificate management system in place, administrators have control of the complete certificate lifecycle management (enrolling, provisioning, and revoking) and auditing tools at their fingertips.
Don’t fear PKI
It is true, PKI used to be difficult to implement, and was complex, labor intensive and expensive. The development of powerful credential management software brought considerable improvements and now does much of the manual work that used to be left up to the administrators.
And it’s important to note that not all PKI implementations are created equal. Some are inherently more complex, depending on the level and layers of security needed for your organization. Gemalto has created a PKI Implementation Guide, broken into five-steps for easier understanding. Follow our lead and you can have a PKI solution up and running in no time. Or if you decide not to tackle the implementation yourself, we offer professional services to help
Key considerations before setting up a PKI
Before running full steam ahead into the PKI configuration and implementation, it’s important to adequately plan and understand that certain decisions influence other decisions. If you ignore the planning part, you may spend much time undoing and going backwards in the process. So take time to carefully consider the following planning guidelines.