Smartphones take center stage in two-factor authentication schemes

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We all know that relying on a simple user ID and password combination is fraught with peril. One alternative is to use one of the single sign-on solutions we reviewed last year, but there are less expensive options that could also be easier to install.

That's where two-factor authentication services come into play. Years ago, vendors came out with hardware-based two-factor authentication: combining a password with a token that generates a one-time code. But toting around tokens means that they can get taken, and in a large enterprise, hard tokens are a pain to manage, provision and track.

Enter the soft token, which could mean using a smartphone app, SMS text message, or telephony to provide the extra authentication step. We reviewed eight services that support up to five kinds of soft tokens: Celestix's HOTPin, Microsoft's PhoneFactor, RSA's Authentication Manager, SafeNet Authentication Service, SecureAuth's IdP, Symantec Validation and ID Protection Service (VIP), TextPower's TextKey, and Vasco's Identikey Authentication Server. A

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