An authentication factor is something used to prove someone's identity, such as a user ID and password, a one-time password (OTP) token or smart card. Biometric devices are another possibility; they measure a unique physical characteristic of a user, like their fingerprint, voice or face. The key difference is that an authentication factor is unique to the individual, while a digital watermark is unique to a piece of content. Also,...
an authentication factor is used for granting access, while a watermark is meant for tracking malicious use, like the illegal copying of copyrighted data.
On the surface, it might appear that a digital watermark embedded in an image in a Web site could be used to protect against phishing attacks. The hidden watermark could be used to identify a legitimate Web site, distinguishing it from a bogus phishing site used for stealing credentials.
But as with anything else on a Web page, the watermark -- especially if it is not encrypted -- could be lifted inadvertently by a clever phisher that builds a mirror image of a targeted Web site. Since the watermark identifies the site, not the user, it doesn't really identify anybody. So while digital watermarking can be an effective tool for protecting copyrighted digital media, it shouldn't be used for authenticating systems.
Dig Deeper on PKI and Digital Certificates
Related Q&A from Joel Dubin, past SearchSecurity.com expert
The security of RFID chips and smart cards may not be fully mature, but there are best practices to keep facilities safe. Identity and access ...continue reading
Picture passwords for mobile device security aren't a new idea, but they have been recently improved. Identity and access management expert Joel ...continue reading
Hacked smart cards are a large potential threat to enterprises that utilize them. Learn how to thwart smart card hackers.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.