2 September 2014

Don’t Let Passwords Leave You Exposed

It would seem that password security can leave you exposed in more ways than one, if the latest story on ITSecurityGuru and the national media is to be believed. The story suggests that a piece of software that guesses passwords for the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature is to blame for nude photos of the Oscar winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence, hitting the Internet and social media this week.

The story is a stark reminder that if you do not want to people to see your personal pictures and private information then the best thing to do is not put it online in the first place! But, if you are going to do it then make sure that the password you choose is as ‘strong’ as possible (it is understood that the hack used the most common Apple passwords). The advice of using a mix of upper and lowercase, letters and numbers, doesn’t just apply to iCloud, but also to Dropbox, Facebook, Gmail, in fact any online multitude of resources that we all regularly use. 

However, strong password is a bit of a misnomer as in truth no password is really very strong, and this latest story lays bare how inadequate password security continues to be in safeguarding the way in which we protect the data we choose to store and share online. iCloud is just one of a long line of stories that highlight the frailty of passwords and I am sure it won’t be the last.

So, my question to every organisation that uses passwords is simply – Why?

We as users of these services need to be mindful of how we use them, but in my view those who provide them have a duty-of care to do their very best to provide adequate protection, and passwords are clearly not up to the task.

To find out more about passwords, how people use them and the problems it is causing take a look at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YshA42jh5kg

Steven Hope, CEO of Winfrasoft

1 September 2014

Dear diary, please save me from passwords and PINs

I know I am not alone when I say that I loathe passwords! I seem to have hundreds of them (or truth be told a small handful for hundreds of websites). Passwords sit at the top my list of things to place in to Room 101, however, unlike other things in my life that I have an immense dislike of, such as cauliflower, I simply cannot avoid them. Or can I?

One afternoon a few weeks back I decided that I was going to try and go an entire day without using a single password or PIN and keep a diary of my experience. I knew it would be a challenge but truth be told on the day of the task I didn’t make it out of bed before logging on. A little dejected I decided to rethink my strategy and chose to monitor how often I used a password and a PIN, in order to see if my hatred is misplaced.

As I say, the day started with the alarm going off on my Google Nexus 7 at 6.45am, as usual I reached for the device and automatically entered my PIN to access it. Fortunately, I am already logged on to my email account and Facebook, so after watching a dozen or so ALS Ice Bucket Challenges (thankfully no nominations that day!) I ventured out for breakfast.

Latte ordered I sat down and logged on to the cafĂ©’s WIFI network to catch up with my corporate email account. Then it was a short walk to the office where I placed my finger on the pad of the biometric fingerprint reader (true this isn’t a password or PIN but it always takes at least half a dozen attempts before it recognises me).

Once at my desk, I open the laptop and it is CTRL+ALT+DEL and enter password. Already I had used a PIN or Password five times and it wasn’t even 9am. The rest of the morning was spent on the telephone, so the tally didn’t increase. However, all that was to change at lunchtime!

I remembered that I needed to transfer some money for a holiday so went on the HSBC website and logged on with my username, a secret word, my four digit PIN and then the six digits generated by my SecureKey. As I was setting up a new payment I then needed to use a SecureKey for a second time. Of all the things I ‘own’ I think I like this the least.

Having fifteen minutes left I remembered that I wanted to order a shirt (it was a bargain in the sale and an email I read in bed that morning said it was ending today). The good news was that it was available and in my size, but the bad news was that the site used Verified by Visa (or something like that) and as I cannot remember the last time I used it. As a result I had no idea what the password was. I made a few attempts but had to reset it and if you asked me now I would have no clue as to what it is, so I will have to reset it again in the future (that is if I decide to shop with them again).

2pm and it was back to work. I was sent an email about the latest issue of a German security magazine that had just been published. I clicked the link and surprise surprise, to read the pdf/ebook version I need to log in. As with my earlier online shopping experience I only visit the site every month or two, so I again made a couple of educated guesses but to no avail. But this time rather than persevere with a reset I decided to park the idea, get back to work and wait for the printed version to arrive in the post.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of pitching out a news story out to the media and one of the services I use requires a username and password. Fortunately, I know this one as I have it printed on a piece of paper on my desk! That said I did logon to corporate Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to share the announcement.

At 6pm the working day done (the office-based part of it anyway) and it was off for a bit of exercise. I have recently changed gyms and it has an access control panel on the door that requires me to enter an eight digit code and the odds of me remembering now or in the future are slim. This is not a big issue as I have it stored in the notes on my iPhone. However, I have to use the code to get in, to get in to the changing room, to get back in after my workout and then to leave the premises. That is four times for the embarrassingly short gym session!

Finally back home after a long day, dinner cooked and I am delighted to report that I can operate the microwave without authenticating myself. So what did I learn? I realised that my hatred of the current methods of authentication that we are all expected to use is not unfounded. In many instances they put up barriers that caused inconvenience and frustration. What is more, my shortcuts of writing them down really isn’t great for the organisations that are expecting us to use them.

This was just one average day for one person, so imagine the amount of time and energy that is being wasted all around the world. Of course, I know that there are bigger things to worry about but, when you know that there are better way of doing things but are forced to use the same old antiquated approach it is just plain annoying. True I could boycott sites using passwords altogether but that would be cutting my nose off to spite my face. But I cannot help think that things must change and soon.

Author: Graham Thatcher, Winfrasoft Press Office

19 August 2014

12 Easy-Peasy Passwords Designed to Foil Hackers

PINgrid gets a nod in Discovery's 12 easy-peasy password solutions list. While there are some strange, and amusing, solutions in the lineup, PINgrid does stand out as an option which is actually workable in day to day use - and already is by many customers!

Check out the list: http://news.discovery.com/tech/biotechnology/easy-peasy-passwords-designed-to-foil-hackers-140807.htm

Thanks Discovery.

6 August 2014

Biometrics To Replace Passwords! I Just Can’t Put My Finger On Why It Would

A recent survey from Intelligent Environments has revealed that 79% of the 2,000 consumers its polled would be prepared to replace passwords with biometric security. But the truth is that if you give a consumer a choice of anything over a password they will take it, since passwords have become a huge pain in everybody's life - even when you're not online.

That said, to say fingerprints are the way forward is quite a leap. Talking about the iPhone 5s as a stepping stone to delivering a fingerprint reader to the masses is in reality a pipedream. In Europe the iPhone accounts for less than 20% of the smart phone market (depending on which poll you read) and of that only a subset are 5s devices, so in reality there aren’t many of the touch ID readers out there. The iPad Air 2 is rumoured to have a touch ID reader too when it is released, but the sales of iPads have already fallen off a cliff, as the market gets saturated and consumers don’t upgrade their tablets as often as their phone. Apple are only just opening up the fingerprint reader to other developers to make use of, all while Samsung is doing something completely different with Android and the Galaxy S5. Let us not forget the fact that that the iPhone 5s touch ID fingerprint reader was hacked within hours of it being released.

So, if you rephrase the consumer question to something like “would you switch from a password to a fingerprint if it cost you £550+ to get started and has proven to be unsecure?” I don’t think you would get a very high uptake rate.

At the end of the day biometric solutions are expensive and history has shown that the lower cost you make them the less secure they become. When a consumer uses a bank login system they expect it to be free, but in reality somebody is paying for it somewhere; and you’ll find that it’s the consumer one way or another. A viable mass market banking login system has be very secure, very low cost and very easy to use, which means forgoing a biometric hardware offering; at least for the foreseeable future. The good news is that there are already technologies on the market today that can deliver on the cost vs security vs usability factors if the banking world would care to look beyond the big brand vendors for an answer.

Author: Steven Hope, CEO of Winfrasoft

24 July 2014

CEO of Winfrasoft talks to the Editor of ITSecurityGuru about the state of the authentication market

The CEO of Winfrasoft, Steven Hope, recently met with the Editor of ITSecurityGuru, Dan Raywood, in London to talk about the state of the authentication market, and how it hopes to break the token to server silo mantra. 

You can read the full story at...


22 July 2014

Winfrasoft Joins The FIDO Alliance To Support Simpler And Stronger Authentication

Winfrasoft, the developer of the award-winning PINgrid soft-token authentication solution, today announces its membership of the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, an industry consortium revolutionising online authentication with standards for strong authentication.

“We are excited to welcome our newest associate member Winfrasoft,” said Michael Barrett, FIDO Alliance president. “The FIDO vision of universal strong authentication promises better security, enhanced privacy, more commerce and expansion of services throughout digital industries. Winfrasoft’s addition to our Alliance supports our industry goal to make user authentication easier and safer for all parties.”

CEO of Winfrasoft, Steven Hope states: “Winfrasoft has joined the FIDO Alliance as we share the vision to break the token<->server silo mantra.” Hope adds: “The global demand for our PINgrid solution, from organisations of all sizes and sectors, suggests that the market is beginning to break free from inflexible hard-tokens and unsecure password-based authentication. Through the creation of a standards-based foundation the FIDO Alliance will open up a world of opportunities for vendors and end-user organisations and deliver huge benefits to consumers.”

To learn more about why businesses and consumers all want to see an end to password-based authentication and how the PINgrid solution works visit: www.pingrid.org.  

8 July 2014

Winfrasoft Launches New Global Reseller Programme For PINgrid

Opportunity For Channel To Add Pattern-Based Authentication Solution To Their Portfolio As Organisations Look For Password Alternatives

Winfrasoft, today announces its new global Reseller Programme, which now offers deal registration and discounts of up to 40% on its authentication solutions including the award-winning PINgrid. By adding pattern-based 1.5 and 2 Factor Authentication to a reseller’s portfolio they are able to capitalise on the current demand to find an alternative to password-based verification and the need for authentication from anywhere and on any device. 

PINgrid uses number grid-based patterns rather than passwords or clunky keyring tokens, to provide 1.5, two and even three factor authentication and transaction verification for applications such as: Internet banking, e-commerce sites, corporate network access, mobile apps and door access systems. The solution utilisies 256bit FIPS compliant cryptograpgic algorthims and is underpinned by OATH logic. It can be implemented standalone, or easily integrated within exisiting apps and websites using the PINgrid SDK. 

When the customer needs to authenticate themselves they look at a challenge grid presented to them on screen that is populated with seemingly random numbers from 0 to 5. They simply type the digits that fall within their memorable pattern to create a One Time Code.
Sales and Marketing Director at Winfrasoft, Alissa Lang explains: “We are providing resellers with a way to win new business, by offering affordable and strong authentication solutions for organisations that are either looking to replace their existing hard-token system, or those who want better security, but have found traditional token-based solutions way out of their price range.”

Platinum and Gold members of the Winfrasoft Reseller Programme benefit from a dedicated Account Manager, deal registration, free telemarketing and marketing activities, sales incentives and promotions, qualified sales opportunities and pre-sales support, training, live product demonstrations  for prospects and technical support. Companies interested in joining the Winfrasoft Reseller Programme please email: reseller@winfrasoft.com.