RFID and mobile technologies are key to single sign-on authentication solutions

The use of passwords to protect computer networks is once again under the spotlight after software firm NordPass published its latest list of the most common and easily hackable passwords.

Its research found that despite “growing cybersecurity awareness, old habits die hard” and that people “still use weak passwords to protect their accounts.”

These include passwords such as “password”, “123456” and “guest” which all took hackers less than a second to crack.

All of which underlines, yet again, the importance of using more sophisticated approaches to network security.

And one of the most robust and reliable currently available are single sign-on (SSO)/PC logon systems that combine middleware with RFID (radio frequency identification) or smartphone-enabled technologies for user authentication.

Unlike weak passwords, single sign-on SSO/PC logon systems not only simplify employee access to secure networks, but they’re also safer too.

Combining reliable and convenient SSO authentication with RFID and mobile technologies

There are plenty of password authentication solutions on the market. One approach is to use an SSO solution that combines PC logon middleware with RFID or smartphone-based Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) or Near Field Communication (NFC) systems.

A reader is connected to — or integrated with — a computer or workstation and connected to the PC-Logon middleware. Instead of entering a password to log on, users simply hold their ID card or smartphone with their digital ID against the reader to gain access to networks, services and files.

Easy to use, RFID cards are already widely used for employee identification and building access control. So, it makes sense to use the same verified ID cards for secure authentication as part of SSO/PC logon systems.

And if physical employee IDs are no longer used, digital IDs as part of a smartphone app are also ideal for accessing corporate networks and resources.

Not only is this approach much more robust than using passwords, SSO/PC logon solutions can also be used regardless of where employees work, be that in the office, at home or while travelling.

As well as making life easier and more secure for employees, such solutions provide a significant step-up in the level of protection for organisations and businesses. SSO/PC logon centralises and simplifies the management of authentication systems making it easier for IT administrators to track who has accessed data and when.

SSO/PC logon solutions also provide the ability to secure all levels of access to systems without the need for multiple requests from users.  They are also able to centralise access control information for compliance testing with various standards. And they can contribute to the implementation of ISO 270001.

Universal readers provide greater user flexibility
While there can be little doubt about the benefits of adopting SSO/PC logon solutions, there are a variety of card technologies available each with their own data formats, communication frequencies and security functions.

Although most readers are only capable of reading a few card technologies, there are solutions that use multi-frequency readers that are compatible with up to 60 common transponder technologies worldwide and certified for use in up to 110 countries.

Typically, these universal devices use RFID for authentication and access as well as NFC and BLE.

What’s more, a modern authentication solution that uses multi-frequency readers allows seamless integration of different applications into an organisation’s existing systems.

Reliable network and data protection are key

Plus, there is the added benefit that multiple applications such as SSO, access control, or time and attendance can also be integrated as part of the system to ensure unified and time-saving management and maximum usability.

It goes without saying that readers must also be secure against both physical tampering and hacker attacks. They also need to support advanced encryption for high-security applications.

That way, organisations using can ensure that the network authentication process in place is secure. Combined with other industry-standard network security systems and protocols, SSO/PC logon applications help to create end-to-end cyber security.

Remote updates and upgrades help to focus on future security

While such technology clearly addresses one of today’s biggest security headaches, these industry-leading systems are also designed to be upgraded when needed. Which is why anyone investing in such technology should consider readers that have a robust open programming interface that makes them adaptable and future-proof.

This makes it possible to program readers in such a way that they offer important functions for sophisticated PC logon middleware and to meet new requirements in the future including an option for central remote configuration.

This allows all installed readers to be updated centrally and cost-effectively — regardless of their number and location. This means that the same level of security can always be guaranteed when working in the office, at home, or on the move. And it means employees no longer have to rely on passwords that can be easily hacked.

About the Author

Burhan Gündüz is Vice President Secure Printing EMEA & Japan at Elatec. ELATEC’s remotely programmable, universal RFID and mobile-credential readers help OEMs, integrators and VARs provide “future-proof” user authentication for access control for their customers. By providing a virtual single-part number solution that ensures worldwide compatibility and obsolescence protection, ELATEC readers reduce organizational procurement, IT, and touch labor costs. This is unlike other products which work with fewer transponder technologies, require on-site programming for each device, and may significantly increase total product costs when technology or security updates are required.