Imprivata advances sign-on technologies

* Users can securely log on without typing username and password

I had a chat with Imprivata CTO David Ting last week about the new Imprivata OneSign FastPass. It's interesting in its own right, but what grabbed me was something that's on the horizon for an upcoming release.

What's available now are two different versions of FastPass:

* FastPass for Proximity Cards – this lets users quickly and securely log on to different workstations simply by touching their ID badge on a reader without having to type their Windows username and password every time they log on. Users perform a secure, two-part authentication at the beginning of their work shift by touching their ID badge on a reader and entering a PIN or password as the second factor. From that point on, FastPass starts an authentication grace period during which users can access any shared workstations by touching their card on the reader.

* FastPass for Finger Biometrics – this lets users quickly and securely log on to different workstations simply by touching their finger on a reader without having to type their Windows username and password. OneSign's patented fingerprint technology identifies and authenticates the user in a single step.

Neither of these is revolutionary -- similar technology (the quick authentication part, at least) is available from others. But the combination with Imprivata's proven single sign-on technology is an added plus. It's worth checking out, especially for environments such as healthcare where users are moving frequently among different workstations.

In talking about these quick sign-on technologies, Ting and I got to discussing session-ending utilities. For the 25 years I've been trying to help network admins cope with their jobs the most frequent question I get is: How do I automatically lock, or kill, a session by an inactive user? My rejoinder has always been, "How do you know they're inactive?" Most inactivity monitors look at keyboards and set a countdown timer whenever a key is struck (or the mouse is moved). If the timer runs out, the session is closed and an authentication screen pops up. But this isn't what you want to happen when your boss is watching a Webinar (or other streaming media content). So David was quick to tell me about a new addition to the FastPass product coming later this year.

He noted that most laptops, and many desktops, have integrated cameras. Add-on cameras (that attach to your monitor) are relatively inexpensive. So what this new software will do is to take your picture during authentication. Periodically during the session it will "peek" through the camera again and if the person from the authentication picture can't be seen it will start the timer countdown. It will keep checking until the timer runs out, so that if you've stepped away to grab a book, for example, the countdown will be ended when you sit down again. This is revolutionary -- the biggest improvement in inactivity monitoring in, like, forever. Watch for this in the fall.

Learn more about this topic

Imprivata marries identity management with physical security

Imprivata offers multifactor authentication without single sign-on

The dirty details of biometrics

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