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Comparison of Authentication Form Factors
In the current security of the the virtual world it's all about two themes: trust and authentication.  Trust and authentication are inversely proportional to another. This means: if a high form of trust exists between machines and people lesser forms of authentication are needed. There are several authentication forms, such as key fobs, challenge and reponse cards, software tokens, smartcards and usb tokens. However most of the organizations use usernames and passwords to log-on to extranet sites or networks.  In order to understand the authentication form factors we will shortly explain them in the comparison table underneath. In case you would like to know more about Authentication Form Factors and which one suites your requirements and purposes, please do contact us!

Authentication Form Factor
Description
Advantages/Dis-advantages
Key Fob
Most popular form of authentication; simple; generates a random  range of key numbers that have to be entered on the computer together with a user name and password.  The generation of the at randomized keynumbers are initialized and synchroinzed by time or events. Challenge-Response and Event-Synchronous authentication require a 5-step and a 3-step login process, respectively.  Time Synchronous tokens use dynamic passwords that change too quickly for many users’ taste, and they can and do fall out of synch with the server (requiring administrator repairs).  In addition, dynamic passwords can be used more than once, making them more susceptible to attack than passwords generated by Asynchronous or Event synchronous tokens.  Finally, Time- / Event-Synchronous as well as Challenge-Response technology require lengthy pass-codes to be remembered and entered. Key Fobs normally have a life expectancy of  2-6 years (due to their batteries) and are not redunded to bad weather influences.
Challenge and Response Card
Same as the key fob with the exception that a PIN code must first be entered before the randomized key numbers neede for authentication are generated.
Software Token
A software-based implementation of a challenge and response card or key fob token which should be present on the users  computer or mobile device. Software tokens which are hosted on a  computer or mobile device can all be hacked at the end. Beside that the dient must always be provided with software in order to make the authentication possible.
Smart Card
A software implementation of either the challenge and response card or key fob token that sits on the user’s computer or mobile device. Smart cards require expensive readers, making the this form of authentication  still very unattractive. They are also very inconvenient in use, since you got to have your reader with you. Smartcards can however be used for several authentication functions. Smartcards can safely store digital certificats and private keys , making them extremely suitable for PKI.
USB Token Basically a smart card in a different form factor; uses USB port on computer and does not require a reader, because it's integrated in the token USB ports are nowadays present on almost every computer. Because the USB Token does not need a reader  they can be carried on the normal keychain and pluggin when the user has to authenticate. The number of authentication functions for USB is growing rapidly and is bypassing the Smartcard.  The most important is that   USB token like the smartcard offers the possibility of securily storing certificats and private keys in order to Public Key Infrastructuur making them extremely suitable for PKI.  With the USB Token you can securily manage your extranet and network access, encryption of files and e-mail and even digitally signing contracts or transactions. Both Smartcards and USB Tokens often requires drivers in order to execute an application. So try to choose an USB Token which minimally requires drivers. USB Tokens have a estimated life expectancy of 10 years  (no battery) and can deal with changing weather circumstances.

In case you would like to know more about Authentication Form Factors and which one suites your requirements and purposes, please do contact us!

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