Feeds

Lenovo, PayPal, launch post-password plan

Token effort ‘FIDO’ offers open two-factor web authentication scheme

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Lenovo, PayPal and lesser-known fellow travellers Agnitio, Infineon Technologies, Nok Nok Labs and Validity, have cooked up a new authentication standard for websites and an alliance to push it to the world.

The Fast Identity Online Alliance (aka FIDO), as the group and proposed standard are both known, advances a two-factor authentication scheme capable of working with a variety of tokens including biometrics, password-protected USB sticks and embedded hardware modules. The potential to use multiple tokens means the standard will be usable by one individual on many devices.

The group’s idea is that sites adopt FIDO, promote it as a more secure form of login, and then liaise with third-party token issuers to validate logins. Such an arrangement, it is hoped, will prove more secure than simple authentication arrangements and also rather harder for scammers and spear phishers to exploit with fake websites.

A browser plugin is an essential piece of the FIDO plan, as it will handle exchange of information between the token and the FIDO authentication server employed by a FIDO-using site.

The FIDO Alliance's diagram explaining how its authentication scheme works

How FIDO works. Or will work if anyone signs up.

The USA’s National Institute for Standards and Technology has applauded FIDO, with Jeremy Grant, senior executive advisor the Institute’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) program quoted in its launch press release.

But there are gaps in FIDO’s plan, including a lack of members who want to implement the standard. A seminar in Silicon Valley later in February should help to get the ball rolling.

Technical issues, such as persistence of tokens if one replaces or wipes a device, have also been identified and will be sorted out once committees sit down and start thinking about the standard in depth.

That committee’s work may will need to consider that being conducted by the folks behind Security Assertion Markup Language and oAuth, two authentication standards FIDO mentions as complementary rather than competitive. Indeed, FIDO hopes to extend the first by offering an authentication process it lacks and improve the second by ensuring logins only happen with users’ express permission. The group says it doesn’t compete with OpenID, as it has no ambitions to provide federated identity management.

PayPal has an obvious interest in the success of FIDO, as anything that reduces fraud will doubtless be good for its bottom line. Lenovo, too, clearly has an interest given it has in the past promoted face recognition software as an authentication tool and is doubtless keen to point out the utility of fingerprint readers in its devices. As a new entrant to the smartphone market, offering secure and hands-free faceprint authentication won’t hurt its prospects as it turns to markets beyond China. The other FIDO participants appear to hope for roles in the background, facilitating authentication with their own services and making a buck along the way. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.