Inexpensive two-factor authentication technology hooks universities, on-line banking

Published 26 September 2006

At a Swedish university, students use Entrust’s grid system to access their transcripts; in Indiana, a credit union strikes a deal with BioPassword for typing rhythm biometrics; low cost and easy implementation woo security planners concerned about customer response

If one is good, two is better. That is the rule for both cupcakes and identity authentication. Yet two is more expensive as well. Dallas, Texas-based Entrust understands this and offers a unique, cost-effective system that even a college student can manage. Students at Sweden’s Göteborg University must present their university-issued identification cards to receive their official records, yet hightened concerns about individual privacy make administrators wary of imposters and forged documents. Students requesting their records must not only have a password, they must now also carry with them a Battleship-like grid containing a random assortment of letters and numbers. When they scan their card into the computer, they are also asked to identify certain points on the grid: A3, F4, J5, and so on. Without the corresponding grid, the ID card is worthless. Low cost and ease of implementation are the winning factors.

An Indiana credit union prefers a different, yet similarly economical, two-factor authentication system for use with its online banking services. Studies show that, while 84 percent of network attacks involved stolen IDs and password, most security breaches could be cured with an additional layer of authentication — a step many computer users might find cumbersome. Traditional biometric technology is impractical for online consumer use, and who wants to remember a new password? FORUM Credit Union instead decided to adopt Issaquah, Washington-based BioPassword’s unusual method of identifying computer users by their typing rhythm. A keyboard can be seen as the most ubiquitous of sensors, and each typist has their own speed and method (especially nowadays when formal typing courses are a thing of the past.) As with the grid system mentioned above, low cost is one of its biggest selling points. Installation requires nothing more than a software upgrade and a few minutes of the customer’s time as he provides a model typing stroke.

-read more about Entrust’s grid-based authentication in Andy Williams’s CR80 News report;
read more about BioPassword’s deal with Forum Credit Union in this news release