ActivCard cuts prices on ID tokens

ActivCard Inc. has put market leader RSA Security Inc. squarely in its crosshairs with a new incentive program that slashes the cost of tokens used to securely access networks.

Officials at ActivCard, a developer of strong authentication and identity solutions, said they will offer secure identification tokens for a one-time price of $15 a token, compared to the $30 to $50 per token that RSA customers have to pay for one-year or three-year licenses.

ActivCard officials said the solution, paired with lower prices for the server software needed to implement the tokens, could be up to 10 times cheaper than RSA's product during a five-year period.

So far, RSA officials have not reacted to ActivCard's announcement, other than to say they won't engage in a price war over tokens.

"We have over two million tokens installed now, so we are a proven technology, which makes switching to our tokens a low risk for users," said Ben Barnes, ActivCard's chief executive officer. "We'll also be able to offer users a smooth migration path to (smart card) ID cards, though we realize this is something they may not need for several years."

If the campaign works, ActivCard executives hope to ride that success and increase the company's share of enterprise markets for more complex security products such as smart cards, which they believe will grow very quickly during the next several years.

About 15 million people use RSA tokens.

ActivCard is already a major supplier of smart cards to government agencies such as the Defense Department, Barnes said.

Barnes believes ActivCard's solution also has other competitive points. For example, he said, the software sits on top of an organization's corporate directory rather than having to use a proprietary database and custom interfaces. Also, the solution includes integrated wireless wide-area network security.

With government mandates and commercial pressures forcing a growing awareness that strong authentication beyond a simple password is required, Barnes said, it's a good time for ActivCard to make its move.

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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