SSA -- Self-service anywhere

It's time, I think, to catch up on some industry news that's happened over the past few weeks.

Hitachi ID, formerly M-Tech Systems of Calgary, recently released version 7.1.0 of its ID Management Suite. The new release includes updates to Password Manager and a rebranded Hitachi ID Privileged Access Manager, both with new capabilities. As CTRO Idan Shoham told me, "The new version number doesn't sound like a big deal on its own but some of the features in the product are really important -- groundbreaking, in my opinion." And the most important, he said, was what they're calling "self-service anywhere." Shoham laid out this scenario:

"Imagine that you are a user with a corporate laptop. You sign into your laptop with cached domain credentials, which is good because this lets you use your laptop when you are away from the office.

"Your password expired today and you changed it (at work). After changing it, you left the office and drove to the airport, where you are now sitting in a departures lounge, waiting for your flight. You open your laptop with the intent of getting some work done. You then realize that in all the hurry of leaving the office, you forgot your new password.

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"So what do you do? You call the company IT help desk of course. Once they figure out who you are and what your problem is, their response will be: 'Sorry, sir. We can't help you until you get back to the office and attach your laptop to the corporate network.' Of course they can reset your Windows password -- on the network. That will have zero impact on your cached credentials, though, so your laptop will still be a brick until you attach it to the office network. Sorry."

But, if your organization has installed the new version 7.1.0 ID Management Suite, there's hope. Shoham explains:

"You pop open your laptop, realize you forgot your password but notice that there is an 'I forgot my password' button on the screen. You press it, and the client component of Hitachi ID Password Manager (HiPM for short) notices that you're not at work. It turns on your Wi-Fi adapter and notices that there are a few hot spots available, so it asks you which one you'd like to use. You notice SFO.Free.WiFi at the top of the list, and it looks promising, so you choose that one. HiPM then pops open your Web browser, where you are directed to the hot spot's 'Terms of Use' page. You press the checkbox, indicating that you have read the terms and conditions and agree to them (you haven't actually read them, of course) and press the 'Connect' button. HiPM notices that your laptop can now access the public Internet and launches a VPN connection to the office. It closes the previous Web browser and launches a kiosk-mode Web browser to the HiPM page at work. You type your ID, answer a few security questions and notice that your phone is buzzing. You look at it and read a PIN that just arrived via SMS. You type that PIN into the HiPM Web page when prompted (did you just notice that we did two factor authentication, for free?). You choose a new password for yourself, and of course it's set on Active Directory back at the office.

"HiPM then downloads an ActiveX component to your PC, which updates the cached credentials too. It then closes everything down -- the kiosk-mode Web browser, the VPN and the Wi-Fi connection.

"You're back to the laptop login prompt, so you type your new password -- it works! The whole process took about as long to complete as it took you to read about it above. 1-2 minutes.

"The same sort of thing is available if you forgot the PIN to your smart card. Or if you can't boot your operating system because you forgot the password that activates your full disk encryption software.

"In other words, self service is available -- from anywhere."

That's neat. Check it out along with all the other new features.

More new products, next time.

Learn more about this topic

Too many people reuse logins, study finds

Private cloud: Self-service IT at your command

Hitachi ID upgrades Password Manager

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