Delfigo Security - Strong Authentication

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Identity and Authentication Blog

Identity For Sale Online

Symantec points out the most frequently advertised items for sale on underground economy servers.

Source: Symantec Intelligence Quarterly: APJ October - December, 2009


The 500 Most Common Passwords

Whats My Pass recently listed the 500 Most Common Passwords from the 2005 book Perfect Passwords by Mark Burnett (note: some are offensive). The top 3 are 12345, password and 12345678. One interesting thing that caught our eye - the key difference between numbers 1 and 3 of course must be that those using number 3 work in "secure" organizations that require a strong 8 character password.

Second factor security using keyboard biometrics can help assist in eliminating the releveance of a weak vs. a strong password. It should not matter if the user's password was made up of 3 simple letters only, or a 10 character mix of letters, numbers, symbols and case. Like fingerprints, we all produce a unique keystroke when typing. If this second layer of security has been properly trained into the system, a set of unique patterns will be available for comparison against new entries. Only one individual should be able to duplicate the keystroke pattern with sufficient confidence that the system would authenticate. The simplicity or complexity of the password would not matter, which in turn alleviates a number of usability and password management issues.


New Generation Trojans Counter Token Based Temporary Passwords

A recent New York Times article once again draws attention to potentical vulnerabilities of token based temporary passwords. Saul Hansell describes in the article how hackers use new trojans to capture passwords in real time, thereby by-passing the security of offered by a token based device that utilizes a complex algorithm to generate a new temporary password every minute.

Source: How Hackers Snatch Real-Time Security ID Numbers


Cloud Security and Strong Authentication

I wholeheartedly agree with Fran Rosch's comment that the industry must move to stronger authentication technologies. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that simple User ID and Password (including strong passwords) offer very little to no security when it comes to protecting digital assets. 

The complexity and frequency of cyber threats today call for companies to consider a new breed of strong authentication - one that strives to validate the user and not just the device. One-time-passwords (OTP) delivered through unique (individually assigned) tokens have been around for a while. Fran argues correctly that infrastructure costs limited the wide spread use of such token based OTP. The infrastructure costs may have been addressed with a Cloud based offering of OTP, but what about the usability of such token based OTP? People lose or forget physical devices. People damage physical devices. I speak from personal experience having learned from my own internal customer base. 

Why not rely of technology that requires no tokens what so ever? No Plastic tokens, USB drives, SMS-enabled devices or software running on mobile devices. A strong authentication solution that is more than two-factor and delivers true multifactor authentication with zero distribution and end user management costs is what enterprises should look for when having to scale solutions globally and across a large user base.

Bharat Nair is Vice President of Business Development at Delfigo Security,, Boston, MA. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone at 1.617.248.6501. You can now follow Delfigo Security news and articles on twitter (@delfigo).


RSA Survey on Budget, Cost and Strong Authentication

A recent RSA survey, Tight Budgets Harm IT Security, once again reaffirms that the biggest complaint IT security executives have is having less money to handle increasing threats. When Delfigo started out just over a year ago we knew from years of experience managing IT departments that cost, both fixed and operating, were the top concerns for identity and access management. That was a key element that drove early decisions to develop a solution that utilized open standards, easily integrated with existing technologies and back-end systems, and most importantly is simple to use and does not require end users to change their access routines or behaviors. There are no tokens or software downloads required. One of our key objectives was  to eliminate the very things that create the majority of integration and management challenges, and drive up the total cost of ownership of the second factor or strong authentication solutions in the market today.


Data Security Breach Puts Twitter In The News Again

Twitter is in the news again - this time their internal documents stored on Google Apps that were hacked.

Questions about cloud security and the feasibility of storing critical information in Web-based services are being raised in the wake of a hacking incident involving Twitter and Google Apps.  

Twitter management was swift to jump into action with internal policy changes. With the popularity of Twitter on the uptick, security practices, policies, and procedures must be front of mind for the management team.

Companies such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook are immensely popular, with membership in the tens millions. Strong passwords are simply no longer adequate to secure data and identity. I am sure these companies are concerned and challenged with how to best contain this increasing menace. However, it would be cost prohibitive for these companies, whose business model is based on free use adoption, to start sending out tokens or force each member to install digital certificates in their browsers for second factor authentication. In addition, even if they were willing to set up token-based second factor authentication for members willing to pay a premium to protect online accounts, they would be confronted with significant integration, distribution and ongoing management challenges that would constantly impose a burden upon organizational resources.

Another primary concern is user convenience. Clearly these social media sites would not be enjoying the same level of popularity if members were subject to cumbersome processes to secure online access. Therefore, balancing the need for strong authentication with user convenience is of utmost importance for these companies as well. But this seemingly insurmountable challenge is not without a solution. Delfigo Security's business model and product architecture is predicated on addressing these very challenges - it provides implicit multifactor authentication without inconveniencing end users. There is no need for end users to change their current use patterns to have the assurance their account and profile information is secure on these sites. And our DSGateway platform is easily deployed, configured, and managed. It is a true zero footprint solution and requires no client downloads or tokens.

I agree with analyst Dan Blum of the Burton Group when he said, "I wouldn't store sensitive documents in a cloud-based service unless I had a lot of confidence in the specific service," Blum says. "I'd hold them to the same standards that you hold for your own internal applications. If you expect your internal applications to be accessed only through two-factor authentication then the cloud should be at least as secure as that."

Any regular user of these social media sites should be concerned as well. Delfigo would like to make Twitter and other social media companies an offer. We will provide our strong authentication solution free of per user (member) fees for up to one year . If you want to assure that your information is safe you should hope they take us up on this offer."

Bharat Nair is Vice President of Business Development at Delfigo Security, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Boston, MA. He can be reached at or by phone at 1.617.248.6501. You can now follow Delfigo Security news and articles on twitter (@delfigo).


What Is "Intelligent Authentication"?

Intelligent authentication is the future of data security. It is the next step in the ongoing effort to authenticate or confirm users accessing and executing transactions with protected information assets, by providing real-time risk assessment and event driven security response during each user session.

Authentication in the networked world is directly tied to your digital identity. For security purposes it has traditionally been the initial interaction between systems and user where you prove you are who you say you are.[1] The user is typically required to provide the system with one or more "authentication factors". In simple terms authentication factors are technical - something you have (id card or security token), personal - something you know (password, phrase or pin number) or human - something you are (fingerprint, retinal scan or other biometric identifier).

First factor authentication is normally username / password. However, this has proven to be of limited value for security. Passwords, even when properly enforced are a security vulnerability, as they can be easily shared, copied or stolen. Second factor authentication was devised to provide stronger authentication given the inherent weakness of single factor authentication. In two factor authentication, the standard login (username/ password) is combined with a second factor, usually in the form of a security token. But implementing many second factor authentication solutions usually requires expensive tokens, smart cards or other devices, and can prove cost prohibitive both in terms of initial distribution and overall management.


Data Security Standards: FFIEC Compliance

"FFIEC (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council)compliance is conformance to a set of standards for online banking issued in October 2005 by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). The standards require multifactor authentication (MFA) because single-factor authentication (SFA) has proven inadequate against the tactics of increasingly sophisticated hackers, particularly on the Internet. In MFA, more than one form of authentication is implemented to verify the legitimacy of a transaction. In contrast, SFA involves only a user ID and password."



Data Security Standards: PCI Compliance

Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Is PCI a law? No. It is a worldwide information security standard assembled by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). Enforcement of compliance is done by  organizations processing transactions (i.e. Visa, Mastercard,   American Express etc.).

PCI DSS Requirements (Wikipedia)

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  3. Protect stored cardholder data
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software on all systems commonly affected by malware
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
  8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  11. Regularly test security systems and processes
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security



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