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14 February 2011, 09:57

Intel, Symantec and Vasco propagate single-use passwords

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Single-use passwords are more secure than the usual combination of user name and password, but an additional device has usually been required to generate and display them. Intel, Symantec and Vasco plan to put an end to this problem and enable users to generate single-use passwords which are suitable, for instance, for logging into websites and VPNs, using their own PCs.

Zoom Authorised software is used to generate single-use passwords in the tamper-proof Manageability Engine
Intel has built the required generator into the "Manageability Engine" of its second generation Core processors (i3, i5 and i7) (brief PDF). The engine is tamper-proof and its functionality is isolated from the operating system. It only runs programs created by specifically authorised partners such as Vasco, and creates a permenant association between the computer and the respective websites allowing it to generate the needed passwords. This permanent association requires prior confirmation by the user and "significantly reduces a hacker’s opportunities to illicitly access your account from any other computer", writes Intel.

However, it isn't enough to provide the ME and the software running on it: the hardware has to be integrated into computers by PC manufacturers. On 11 March, Intel plans to announce the first OEMs to provide suitable devices. Symantec's VIP (VeriSign Identity Protection) technology is already used on various websites – including those of Adobe, eBay, the US Department of Homeland Security and investment bankers Merrill Lynch. With these new computers users will be able to access these services via single-use passwords without the need for an additional device.


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