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FIDO Alliance Releases Authentication Standards, Unveils Products

Proponents say the new specifications will pave the way for the replacement of passwords, which are frequently lost, stolen, or hacked.

The Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, a consortium of nearly 100 security vendors and enterprises that proposes to create a standard method for user authentication, published its first specifications for industry review last Tuesday.

The first products to be built on the specifications, Nok Nok Labs' S3 Authentication Suite, were released on Thursday.

Proponents of the FIDO guidelines, which are designed to help systems find the most effective method of authenticating a user, say the new specifications will pave the way for the replacement of passwords, which are frequently lost, stolen, or hacked.

"One of the clear advantages of the FIDO approach is that it offers users a consistent experience across multiple services and user devices, a range of multi-factor schemes, and maintains privacy by using distinct authentication keys for different services," says Andrew Young, vice president of product management for authentication at SafeNet. "The FIDO Alliance, by helping to standardize multi-factor practices, will contribute to the formation of a broader identity framework based on greater trust and better security in both consumer and enterprise environments."

The FIDO Alliance proposes to create common "plumbing" for authentication, creating a single method for logging onto a secure system, regardless of the authentication technologies used. When an access request is received under FIDO, the systems involved seek out the most effective method of authentication that can be used by both the server and the client and trigger it, eliminating the need for all users to conform to a single authentication mechanism or rely on passwords.

Phillip Dunkelberger, president & CEO of Nok Nok Labs, tells InformationWeek why the time is ripe for a password free computing experience.

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