Best of 2006: Two-factor authentication

Users generally have passwords that are easy to guess. And once a password has been cracked, the intruder has free reign to your network.

Rather than thinking of more and more complex ways to shut down your systems, two-factor authentication can help protect them. These processes work in combination with your existing passwords and rely on unique tokens a user carries around. These generate a single-use password and, as your user is the only person to carry that token, chances are that the person logging on is a valid user. Plus, as the generated password is only valid for one use, it's useless if someone steals it. The normal password that's entered next seals the deal. And, the whole system is no more complex to use.

Smart cards have become a lot more popular. Biometrics is also gaining popularity.

The range of protection a product offers is very important depending on what you want to protect. If you want to add two-factor authentication to your local workstation access and your web mail accounts, then there's little point in choosing a product that will only do one of those jobs.

RSA SecurID 
Vendor: RSA Security
Verdict: A huge range of application and server support is backed up by a wide range of tokens and guides.


KoolSpan SecurEdge 
Vendor: KoolSpan 
Verdict: A good way of encrypting access to important systems.

Product: SafeWord Premier Access 
Vendor: SecureComputing 
Verdict: One of the easiest products to use to protect your network.

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