Verisign plans authentication management

VeriSign Inc. officials are launching a managed security service that they believe can cut up to 40 percent of the cost of deploying strong authentication throughout an enterprise.

To use strong authentication, which combines a users' unique identification and password with a physical token, such as a smart card or USB token, organizations have to manage all aspects of the process, said Mark Griffith, VeriSign's vice president for authentication services.

That includes getting the tokens to the right end user, administering the log-on IDs, making sure the access control server synchronizes with Active Directory or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol directories, and linking the authentication process to the applications users need access to, he said.

VeriSign Unified Authentication service takes much of that load onto itself.

When a user tries to log on to a network, the authentication request is sent from the organization's server into the VeriSign infrastructure, which completes several checks and sends confirmation back to the server.

"With security becoming a much more complicated issue, organizations are looking to see more of that complexity handled in the [communications] cloud, and that provides opportunities for companies such as VeriSign, which have specific security expertise," Griffith said.

VeriSign's service will be offered in two flavors, either through VeriSign's own infrastructure, in which the company owns the validation engine and provides for the scalability of the solution, or by placing the validation engine at the customer's site.

The latter is reserved for situations such as government agencies that don't allow outside companies such as VeriSign to have physical access to their systems, Griffith said.

VeriSign Unified Authentication will go live Sept. 30, Griffith said, with per user prices likely to average between $25 and $40 a year.

Brian Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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