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The WiKID Blog

Viewing posts from July, 2014

More on the security concerns for SSH and Key Management

We've blogged previously about the potential compliance issues around SSH keys and about the risks of poor SSH key management.  A recent Forrester survey (PDF warning!)  revealed:

Why tie your authentication into your directory infrastructure?

It would be better for us if we recommended that our customers just have their VPNs etc talk radius directly to the WiKID server.  It's a super-simple setup and the fastest way for us to "close the sale".

New VMWare Two-factor Authentication Virtual Appliance

We've released a VMWare appliance version of the WiKID Two-factor Authentication Server.   Thanks to packer, we are able to easily create these images for various virtual infrastructure.  We will continue to add platforms.

5 issues enterprises should consider before using Google Authenticator for SSH

There's been a plethora of blog posts on how to add Google Authenticator to SSH on Linux.  Two-factor authentication for SSH is a great, great idea. no doubt about it.  We've done SSH tutorials at least since 2007, some earlier.   If you are adding two-factor authentication to your home server or single server, then Authenticator is a fine choice.  However, if you are a business or an organization with more than one server, you should consider these 5 issues before proceeding:

Are we royally screwing up two-factor authentication

One of our stated goals has always been to help get rid of passwords (alright,  reduce their prevalence).  They aren't secure enough and are a big pain for the end user.  Attempts to make them stronger, such as 60 day expirations and complexity requirements, make them much much worse.  

memeI have watched as a number of attacks have shown the weaknesses and hacks have exposed personal data and yet there was no movement for change until Mat Honan's attack.  Then all of the sudden, OMG, we all need two-factor auth and shame on those services that do not provide it.  Web services started adding two-factor authentication and there's even a web site listing which services do and shaming those that don't offer two-factor. There's a full-on rush to two-factor all the things. 

So what's my problem?  We are *adding* two-factor authentication.  We aren't getting rid of passwords at all.  Users now typically login with their usernames and password and are then prompted to authorize the access (as with Twitter, though I haven't been prompted for that in a long while) or to enter an OTP (as with Amazon's EC2).

Even most corporate sysadmins struggle with this concept. Most assume that you need to perform authorization against AD or LDAP using both the username and static password and that the OTP should be an additional process.  This is not case since Windows Server 2008 and IAS for Windows and never for RADIUS/LDAP.  IAS (now NPS) will do the authorization in AD based on the username alone.  If authorization passes, then the username and OTP are proxied to the authentication server as per the RADIUS standard.  Yet many admins still want both an AD password and OTP. If the OTP encompasses both factors then asking for the AD password is just more of the same factor, more risk that the password will be compromised and more hassle for your users.

In addition to being weak, passwords are huge pain in the ass.  We should be taking advantage of this opportunity to vastly improve authentication and we are not.

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