Part two – Open standards are the key to building a Federated System

Open Standards – the future beckons.

Part 1:The business drivers and technology basics of two-factor or multi-factor authentication

  1. Open Security Standards – an overview
  2. Australian Solution - Define our own “everything” standard.
  3. How would the Australian Multi Factor Authentication (AMFA) work?
  4. Who are the participants?
  5. What devices would be used to authenticate access to the framework?

Greater adoption and usage of Open standards will lower the costs of MFA. There are a number of open standards in the security market. Reducing the costs to business by using open standards in deploying MFA is a practical forward looking strategy. Provisioning MFA has traditionally been costly. With a limited choice of vendors, the drivers for change have moved very slowly. Because of the high implementation and ownership costs, widespread adoption of the technology has been inhibited.

This is a very poor outcome for IT Security as MFA has proven to provide very high levels of protection for users. MFA is highly effective way to safeguard information assets and mitigate risks thus ensuring controlled and auditable access to resources.

Open standards offer some critical deliverables including much greater levels of protection for users;

  • Lower cost for software and ongoing support and maintenance
  • Plug and play connectivity with hardware and software security tokens from a vast array of security vendors
  • Easy integration with identity and access management systems
  • Clearly defined and ratified security standards

Open Security Standards – an overview

Open authentication standards form the backbone for open standards based MFA.

HOTP: HMAC-based One Time Password algorithm

HOTP or HMAC based One Time Password (OPT) is an open standard protocol that is used in hardware and software products available from a wide range of manufacturers. Aided by greater economies of scale, HOTP tokens are available at costs significantly lower than their proprietary competitors.

Because of the diverse and competitive nature of the market, innovation in the HOTP sector is racing ahead, with multiple functions and biometric feature sets incorporated into exciting new products that continue to spearhead development.

The Open Authentication Organisation (OATH)
To ensure that the standard is interoperable an industry body was formed to ensure compliance among the members. The organisation’s primary objective is to enhance security by “offering strong authentication on all devices, on all networks, for all users”.

The future for greater security available to everybody relies on open standards and universal adoption of these standards. Here are some examples of groups who are dedicated to furthering these objectives.


IETF ratified standard rfc4226 covers the HOTP                                       
Open Authentication Organisation                                                                 
Open Security Architecture                                                                                                                                        
Cloud Security Alliance                                                                              
Open Source Solutions         

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