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August 2003

Examining device-based authentication

Driving the authentication down toward Layer 2 of the network invokes the question, "Can we authenticate the machine as well as the user?" Here's the idea: Using a unique footprint or ID from the machine itself provides a reliable way to control access, because it enables companies to lock out any unauthorized machine. Steal the machine but don't know the password? The machine gets cut off from network access. Steal the password but not the machine? Again, no access. So, when used together, passwords and machine IDs give companies strong security without the need deploying smart cards, tokens or other devices that users can misplace or break. As appealing as this solution is, the offerings in the market for it are still quite new. But with major players such as Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and IBM involved, it may gain traction. These companies, with others, formed the Trusted Computing Group (TGC) in April to "develop and promote open industry standard specifications for trusted computing hardware building blocks and ...

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