FIDO Alliance proposes strong authentication standard to replace passwords, improve BYOD security


As more and more personally owned devices enter the enterprise, the need to verify the identity of those accessing corporate networks has become paramount.

To address the need for strong authentication, a group of Internet companies, systems integrators and security firms have teamed to offer an online authentication standard designed to replace passwords, which provide weak authentication because of user reuse, as well as malware and phishing attacks.

The companies, which include Lenovo, Nok Nok Labs, PayPal and Validity, formed a coalition called the Fast Identity Online, or FIDO, Alliance to develop a standards-based open protocol for an online authentication approach that automatically detects when a FIDO-enabled device is present and offers users the option to replace passwords with more secure authentication techniques, such as biometrics.

"We expected to see large numbers of BYOD devices to have FIDO support. When that starts to happen, that is extremely complementary from an enterprise perspective. That is probably a year or two out," Michael Barrett, FIDO Alliance president and PayPal chief information security officer, told FierceMobileIT.

The open FIDO protocol allows the interaction of technologies within a single infrastructure, enabling security options to be tailored to the needs of each user and enterprise. As more organizations join the FIDO Alliance, more use cases and technologies will become part of the solution.

"What FIDO can create is a 'bring your own token' trend. As an employee, I can provide something that is sufficient for a  corporate network, but at the same time I am not sharing everything that is private on my device. ... The FIDO Alliance can provide the next step to the BYOD trend of today," said Sebastien Taveau, FIDO Alliance board member and chief technology officer with Validity Sensors.

"All of the technologies that are supporting the FIDO alliance specification are already there ... We are providing the glue that helps all of these technologies work together," he added.

For more:
- see the FIDO Alliance release

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