Securing corporate assets with two factor authentication

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1 WHITEPAPER Securing corporate assets with two factor authentication Published July 2012

2 Contents Introduction Why static passwords are insufficient Introducing two-factor authentication Form Factors for OTP delivery Contact information OTP generating mechanisms Integrating Two-factor authentication About Celestix HOTPin Introduction Organizations require users to enter their username and passwords in order to validate their identity. However, with the proliferation of applications, websites and services that require authentication, users are under increasing pressure to maintain their passwords and it has become clear that the simple password scheme is no longer sufficient. In fact there are multiple, high profile cases where passwords have failed both the users and the organizations that provide services, leading to identity theft and data loss. The impact of such breaches is more costly than ever with financial penalties associated to breach of regulatory compliance and the impact of lost business and loss of confidence. This white paper will explore how two-factor authentication can be considered as an alternative to provide secure authentication in order to resolve the risks of unauthorized access to corporate resources. Why static passwords are insufficient - My password is 1234, and I wrote it down Passwords have long been used as a way to authenticate users and provide them services. They rely on the simple fact that only the users know the password and no one else does. This was initially perceived as an effective solution but with the proliferation of systems and resources that require password entry prior to access, the model breaks down in a number of ways. Authentication vs. Authorization Authentication and authorization are often, and mistakenly, used interchangeably. Authentication is the process of verifying that you are who you say are, while authorization is the process of verifying that you are permitted to do what you are trying to do. Authentication precedes authorization. Written down passwords Human memory is known to fail. If a user forgets their password, they typically have to call the IT helpdesk, or reset the password before access is granted again. Since this disrupts a users workflow, many users write down passwords, and often leave it next to their place of work, in their laptop bag, or on their laptop! This is a clear security risk as anyone with physical access to the office cube or laptop has complete and unauthorized, access. A recent survey carried out amongst IT professionals confirmed that 29% of respondents knew a colleague s password details. The risk presented by written down passwords is even greater when considered in context of the volume of connected devices that are lost every day. Surveys suggest that as many as 15,000 laptops are misplaced at airports in Europe and the USA every week. If any of these have an accompanying post-it note with a password attached then no amount of security can protect the organization from loss. Sharing of passwords with websites Since users have to remember so many passwords, they tend to create a standard password and re-use it in multiple places. This means that if the password is compromised in one place the hacker has access to multiple sites and services. Replay attacks Even if the user is extremely careful with their passwords, static passwords are vulnerable to Replay Attacks. After the user enters the password on a site or application, it has to be sent to an authentication server for validation. An intruder can intercept this session or transmission and replay it later on to gain unauthorized access

3 Social Engineering and Phishing Criminals have used deception for millennia in order to extract confidential information from others. Deception can include face to face diversion tactics and behavioral manipulation but in the computing age, it can also be carried out without the need for in person interaction. Phishing attacks are extremely common and are a source of significant data theft. In a phishing attack, the phisher will send an that appears to come from a legitimate source such as a bank, requesting the recipient to log in to their account or to verify their account details. The directs the user to a fraudulent website where account details are captured and can be used to commit fraud. With the evolving complexity and intelligence of fraudulent attacks, the increase in the number of systems requiring password access, and the fact that users will address this by standardizing their passwords and will then write them down, how can organizations protect themselves against such a broad range of issues that can result in attacks on their systems? Introducing two-factor authentication Authentication based on passwords is based on what a user knows. It is reasonable to augment security by enhancing it with what a user has. This simple concept is the basis of two-factor authentication. What you know a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) What you have a unique physical characteristic, or device, that only the user has access to With such a scheme, even if a users password or PIN is compromised, the attacker will not be able to gain access to the site or service since they don t possess the second factor required in order to gain access. Conversely, if the attacker gains access to the device that provides the second factor authentication, they won t know the users password or PIN. ATM, or debit cards are the most common example of two-factor authentication. If the card is ever lost or stolen, it still can t be used without the PIN. Even if an unauthorized user knows the PIN of the bank account, they will still not be able to withdraw money since they don t have the actual ATM card. One is rendered useless without the other. One Time Passwords ATM cards provide two-factor authentication in the tightly controlled environment of ATM machines, where each machine is equipped with a special card reader. It is not feasible to equip every laptop, desktop or tablet with a special device to read a card. That would be cost-prohibitive, time-consuming and extremely impractical. To provide two-factor authentication for computer services and sites, users rely on a One Time Password that is generated on a device that is uniquely assigned to a user. One Time Passwords (OTP) provides security in a number of ways. Always Changing The OTP changes after a fixed interval of time, commonly every 60 seconds. Even if an unauthorized user noted the OTP, they won t be able to use it since it would have changed for the next session.

4 Tied to a device OTPs are generated using a seed that is uniquely associated with a device. Thus, every user s OTP will be different. Since the device is assigned to a user, the OTP uniquely authenticates a user. and a PC desktop client. By leveraging smart devices or text messaging, the OTP is delivered on demand to the user. And, of course, HOTPin easily integrates with AD. Security for IT and users DirectAccess with HOTPin is actually a security tool masquerading as a user convenience tool, a functional duality that, in other solutions, usually results in a trade-off. Form Factors for OTP delivery One Time Passwords can be delivered to end-users via a variety of methods, each with their own pros and cons. Hardware Tokens Hardware tokens, also commonly referred to as authentication tokens, are pocket sized, battery operated devices which are dedicated to generate OTPs. This is the oldest method of generating OTPs. However, they come with their own set of problems. For remote users, the devices need to be shipped to their site, increasing costs. The battery life of these devices is approximately three years. After that, the devices have to be replaced. Larger organizations usually have to maintain stock for devices that need to be replaced or are lost. A subtle, but important problem is that if these devices are lost or stolen, the user might not notice for a few days. That gives an attacker a window of opportunity. Software Token With the increasing popularity of smart phones, users expect not to carry a dedicated device for generating OTPs. Fortunately, smart phones can be leveraged to generate the OTP. Software tokens, or soft tokens, vastly increase the convenience for end users. If the smart phone is ever lost, the end user will most likely notice that much quicker than hardware token. Some software token apps, such as those from Celestix, can be configured to require a PIN before displaying the OTP further enhancing security. OTPs through text messages / s One Time Passwords can also be delivered through a text message. This method is convenient for users who might not have smart phones, but still don t want to carry a dedicated device. Receiving the OTP through text messaging means it is completely separated from regular authentication channels, or Out of Band (OOB), increasing security. OTPs can also be sent via s. So if users have access to s on their phones, they can opt to receive OTPs via .

5 Contact USA +1 (510) UK +44 (0) Singapore India Japan +81 (0) OTP generating mechanisms There are various proprietary mechanisms for generating One Time Passwords. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an international body that develops and promotes internet standards, has adopted an algorithm known as HOTP for generating One Time Passwords. Proprietary vs. Standards-based OTPs HOTP is not the only mechanism for generating One Time Passwords. Alternative proprietary solutions exist for generating one time passwords. However, closed and proprietary solutions have always presented enterprises with multiple challenges. Vendor lock-in Once an enterprise adopts a proprietary system, they often find themselves beholden to the vendor of the solution. Migrating to another solution often becomes impossible. Since there is no open interoperability, customers are locked-in to higher prices and typically, older technologies. RSA SecurID breach RSA, a division of EMC, provides RSA SecurID, as a two-factor authentication solution. In March 2011, RSA announced that they were subject to an attack which allegedly compromised the security of the One Time Password generation. Customers had to replace the tokens and employ security monitoring services to ensure that their information was not breached. While complementary, these required significant investment in time and posed tactical challenges for customers. Security through obscurity Proprietary algorithms, by definition, are not vetted by security analysts or academic researchers. Relying on open standards ensures that security is not compromised by vulnerabilities in proprietary software or algorithms. Integrating Two-factor authentication Mature two-factor solutions, like Celestix HOTPin, provide an embedded RADIUS server. This can be used to integrate Celestix HOTPin with any remote access gateway solution (e.g. Juniper SA series). For Microsoft UAG specifically, Celestix provides a custom agent that ensures users credentials are properly passed on to applications, providing true Single Sign-On. After integration, users have to enter their username, PIN and OTP to authenticate. OTPs are generated on smart phones, hardware tokens (like Celestix Touch) or received through text messages. About Celestix HOTPin Celestix HOTPin enables organizations to provide market-leading levels of authentication to remote users, while lowering the on-going cost of provisioning, management and ownership. Celestix HOTPin is a tokenless two-factor authentication solution that enables organizations to empower their mobile workforce while ensuring industry leading protection of digital identities and protecting against unsolicited access to corporate resources, a primary reason for the loss of data. Celestix HOTPin enables organizations not only to mobilize their workforce but allows them also to leverage the remote workers smart device, PC or tablet to act as a token capable of generating an event based one-time password (OTP) Celestix Networks Inc. All rights reserved. Version 1.0

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