Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics

IBM Buys Single-Sign-On Upstart

Acquisition of Encentuate will broaden IBM/Tivoli's identity management offerings, officials say

IBM doesn't think every user in the enterprise should be locked into the same two-factor authentication scheme. And to prove it, it bought a whole company.

Big Blue yesterday announced it has acquired Encentuate, a three-year-old, privately held maker of single sign-on, authentication management, and access tracking tools. Financial terms of the buyout were not disclosed.

Encentuate's will be integrated into IBM's Tivoli line of products, which includes Tivoli Access Management (TAM), Tivoli Identity Management (TIM), and a single sign-on product powered by technology from Passlogix.

Officials at IBM/Tivoli said the Encentuate line offers greater flexibility, particularly in the second factor of authentication, than its current single sign-on (SSO) line. "In the past, SSO meant that everybody had to have the same second factor, like a token or a smart card," noted Joe Anthony, program director for security and compliance management at Tivoli. "It's just another thing to keep track of."

With Encentuate, end users in different parts of the enterprise can be authenticated with tools they already have, such as smart cards, biometrics, tokens, RFID badges, or even personal objects, Anthony observed. And once they are authenticated to the system, they can gain access to all of the applications and data they need, rather than just one or a few of them, he observed.

Encentuate also tracks which systems a user accesses and when, which is becoming a critical element of many regulatory and vertical-industry compliance requirements. "Compliance is driving a lot of our customers' decisions," Anthony said.

Single sign-on technology has been around for more than a decade, but many enterprises remain queasy about the idea of allowing users to access a wide range of systems, applications, and data via a single password. "SSO isn't necessarily good for security, because it consolidates to a single failure point," said Rich Mogull, founder of Securosis, a security consultancy.

However, many of these enterprises are interested in reducing the number of passwords and access methods they use, both to reduce technology costs and to simplify password and access administration, Mogull observed. "There is a lot of value in reducing sign-ons where it makes sense," he said. "We've seen a lot of traction there, especially when linked with broader identity management, which Tivoli tries to do."

The move toward risk management is also spurring renewed interest in SSO, according to Scott Crawford, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. "Access privilege abuse allegedly played a major role in the Societe Generale case, for example, and auditors can be expected to scrutinize business risk exposure in IT more carefully going forward." (See Societe Generale: How Did It Happen?)

Given IBM's OEM relationship with Passlogix, the decision to acquire Encentuate is "a bit of a surprise," Crawford said. Tivoli will offer a program to upgrade users from the Passlogix-based technology to Encentuate, which may irk some current users.

"IBM likely got a very good deal for Encentuate," Crawford said. "And to IBM's credit, this is a solution that has the reputation of being readily integrated out-of-the-box with a wide range of access targets, with good customer satisfaction and rapid time-to-value."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Encentuate Inc.
  • IBM Tivoli
  • Passlogix Inc.

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
    Commentary
    Ransomware Is Not the Problem
    Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
    Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
    How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
    John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
    News
    New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
    Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Video
    Cartoon Contest
    Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
    Latest Comment: Google's new See No Evil policy......
    Current Issue
    The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
    In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    CVE-2021-31664
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 44741ff99f7a71df45420635b238b9c22093647a contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    CVE-2021-33185
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS contains a buffer overflow in the set_range test in TestBitmap which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    CVE-2021-33186
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS in test-crypto.cpp contains a stack buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
    CVE-2021-31272
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    SerenityOS before commit 3844e8569689dd476064a0759d704bc64fb3ca2c contains a directory traversal vulnerability in tar/unzip that may lead to command execution or privilege escalation.
    CVE-2021-31660
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
    RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 85da504d2dc30188b89f44c3276fc5a25b31251f contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.