Moreover, the penetration of key technologies in the UK means working from home is now more feasible than ever before. Over 27 million people have access to the Internet in the UK while, according to BT, there are 9.8 million broadband subscribers.
So surely these should be happy days for UK Plc? That would be the case were it not for the enormous security implications that arise as a result of home workers – as well as customers and partners – trying to access corporate networks via the internet.
Five years ago, organisations dealt with remote access by giving users a simple username and password. But recent security lapses, inspired primarily by phishing attacks, mean many organisations feel this level of security is insufficient. And when access to corporate networks is increasingly part of a company’s duty of care under the regulations laid down in Sarbanes Oxley, there are many who would support a complete ban on remote access to corporate networks via the ‘net.
The most recent phishing attacks have shown how professional internet fraudsters steal passwords and identities. To exclude the growing security risk, experts recommend dual-factor authentication – also known as “strong” authentication. The use of security systems for strong authentication practically excludes the risk of passwords being deliberately stolen or cracked. This is by virtue of the fact that strong authentication extends the “knowledge” factor – in other words the password – by the “ownership” principle – mostly in the form of a security token or a smart card. In principle therefore, strong authentication is based on a principle familiar from EC cards as used in ATMs: card plus PIN code – ownership plus knowledge.
Strong authentication can be applied in different ways. While the first factor – “knowledge” – is invariably a static password or a PIN code, companies have various options when it comes to applying the second principle. Namely: the “one-time password” (OTP) and digital certificates. These can be saved either to small hardware devices, called “tokens”, or directly to the user’s desktop.
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