What is an authentication token?
An authentication token (security token) is a hardware or software device required for a user to access an application or a network system in a more secure way.
What exactly is an authentication token?
An authentication token (security token) is a “trusted device” used to access an electronically restricted resource (usually an application or a corporate network). It can be seen as an electronic key that enables a user to authenticate and prove his identity by storing some sort of personal information.
Security tokens provide an extra level of security to access data or a network through a method known as multifactor authentication (MFA).
How does it work?
All trusted devices (authentication tokens) contain data created by the server and that is used to prove the identity of a particular user. The purpose of a token is to generate an One-Time Password (OTP) which will then be validated by the server.
But first, the user must enroll his token which means he/she has registered the device with his/her account. It is only once this process is completed that the token becomes a “trusted device”.
A token-based authentication is successful if a user can prove to a server that he or she is the legitimate user thanks to the security token. In this case, the service (i.e the application, the network, etc.) validates the security token and processes the user's request to login.
What are the different types of Authentication tokens?
Authentication tokens are generally divided into 2 groups: Hardware tokens (or Hard token) and Software tokens (or Soft token).
A hardware token is a small physical device. The two most common physical tokens on the market are smart cards and USB tokens. However, they require the user to have a smart card reader and an USB port respectively.
A software token is not physically tangible, it is a virtual piece of software that is installed on a user's electronic “device”. It can be either a computer, a smartphone, a tablet and in one unique case, a browser. Indeed, thanks to the advanced technology of random dynamic keys, a techno patented by inWebo, a user can authenticate by using a Browser Token (Deviceless MFA).
What are the benefits of using Software tokens?
Software tokens have several advantages when compared to hardware tokens.
Better user experience
As users become increasingly mobile and connected to the cloud, software tokens are able to adapt and maintain the balance between user experience and security. Leading software token providers can even offer a passwordless MFA login experience.
In addition, by providing a better user experience than physical tokens, they greatly simplify the task of IT teams.
The logistics costs are much lower than for hardware tokens: no additional cost to deploy each new token (they can be deployed very quickly on a large scale) and they are less likely to be lost or forgotten.
Up to date
Software tokens are always up to date as they can be updated remotely. This is a huge relief for the IT teams in comparison to hardware tokens.
Did you know that a token could be deviceless?
As mentioned earlier in the types of software tokens, the browser is now the only token that no longer requires specific equipment. Also known as "Deviceless MFA", this technology is unique on the market and is patented by inWebo.
You want to know more about this advanced technology? Check out our article and interview with 2 cybersecurity engineers.
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