Entrust Survey Reveals RSA Data Breach Undermines Confidence In Hard Token Authentication

Survey reveals that hard tokens are still widely used in the workplace

December 13, 2011

3 Min Read


DALLAS, Dec. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Entrust, a leader in identity-based security solutions, has announced the findings of a new survey with IT decision makers in the UK*, which reveals that almost a quarter of organizations, 23%, have suffered a security breach as a result of identity fraud which was linked to a lost or stolen authentication device.

The survey, which examines current and alternative methods of authentication, reveals that hard tokens are still widely used in the workplace, with four in five large organizations deploying them as a method of authentication. However, 33% of these do not have an alternative method of authentication in place should the hard token be compromised. The reasons given for not having an alternative method vary: 38% say it is because they never thought they would need one, whilst the same number, 38%, say this is because of the expense of deploying one.

Respondents were also asked about the ease with which they could change authentication methods in the event that a token is breached, such as between mobile, voice or SMS based authentication. This revealed that more than a third of respondents (36%) report that it would take longer than a day to change their authentication type with, most worryingly, some 15% reporting that it would take up to a month.

Recent high profile data breaches seem to have had an impact on the reputation of one-time-password tokens as a method of authentication. More than three quarters (76%), of respondents who are aware of the RSA data breach, believe that the RSA incident and similar breaches have indeed undermined confidence in one-time password tokens as an effective method of authentication.

The survey also reveals that lost hard tokens can crop up in the most unusual places. When asked about some of the strangest locations that they have heard of tokens being found, restaurant tables, washing machines, lavatories, trains and taxis were amongst the most frequently cited, whilst one respondent had even heard of a token being found inside a car tire.

Commenting on these findings, Mark Reeves, SVP International Sales of Entrust said, "It's concerning that a significant number of organizations have suffered a breach as a result of lost or compromised hard tokens, and even more worrying that so many would struggle to have an alternative method in place within a day. There's no escaping the fact that breaches do occur, with far-reaching ramifications, including massive disruption to people and the business through the loss of intellectual property and other sensitive corporate and client data."

Mark continues, "IT departments are now faced with a host of ever more sophisticated security challenges. For this reason, it can be risky to depend on just one method of authentication to protect against unauthorized access to their network. What's more, the 'old' solutions, such as hard tokens, are no match in stopping advanced online attacks. Authentication solutions now need to support multiple authentication mechanisms, and provide advanced measures if the primary authentication mechanism is compromised."

*Survey with 100 Senior IT Decision Makers, at organizations with more than 1000 employees, conducted by Vanson Bourne.


<> About Entrust Entrust provides identity-based security solutions that empower enterprises, consumers, citizens and Web sites in more than 4,000 organizations spanning 60 countries. Entrust's identity-based approach offers the right balance between affordability, expertise and service. For strong authentication, fraud detection, digital certificates, SSL and PKI, call 888-690-2424, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.entrust.com.

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