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July 2004

USB security tokens may not be as secure as you think

Strong multifactor authentication is crucial for high-security environments. Even strong password policies can fail in the face of cracker tools and users who carelessly share passwords or write them on Post-it notes. USB security tokens give security managers the proverbial "something you have" and "something you know." Further, the token provides secure storage for multiple login credentials, so users need to remember only a single password or PIN to access a VPN, network login, sales and marketing intranet or employee Internet site, making the USB token an attractive authentication solution. Information Security tested tokens from ActivCard, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, Authenex, DataKey (using a SafeNet token) and Griffin Technologies on ease of setup and configuration, administration and the range of supported applications (see "About This Review"). The upshot? Although the tokens themselves are secure, we found disturbing security weaknesses in the client software. Each of the tested tokens has flaws that could allow an ...

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