RE: [fw-wiz] Username password VS hardware token plus PIN

From: Crissup, John (MBNP is) (
Date: 02/22/05

  • Next message: Paul Melson: "FW: [fw-wiz] Username password VS hardware token plus PIN"
    To: "''" <>
    Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 12:28:32 -0600

     Well, let's assume that I install a key logger on one of your user's
    machines. At that point, stealing a complex password is no more difficult
    than stealing an easy one. Your user logs in and x minutes later, I log in
    also as that user using their complex password. If one uses RSA SecurID
    (Which I'm not affiliated with other that using their product), then that
    code is good for one time. So, if I try and use any code that I've stolen
    via a keylogger, then it's going to fail due to a one time use policy.
    Granted, at that point, you have my PIN, but you still don't have my token.
    So now, you still have to gain access to my token in order to use it. If
    you try and guess that token code, it will lock out after a certain number
    of failures. In addition, if you've stolen my token, but don't have my PIN,
    you can try and crack my PIN, but again will lock out after a specific
    number of failures.

      Is it foolproof? No, unforuntately, there are still users involved who
    will do stupid stuff like write their PIN on their token, but for those
    users, nothing short of a baseball bat will ever solve the problem.

    -----Original Message-----
    [] On Behalf Of
    Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 11:04 AM
    Subject: RE: [fw-wiz] Username password VS hardware token plus PIN
    Your're not late and your comments are certainly appreciated.
    The RSA key you use, can you force regular PIN changes al la password policy
    On the password brute forcing side of things. Surely locking the account on
    X failed attempts is good enough to stop brute forcing - right?
    If the security officer (yuk) gets an alert for locked accounts, that would
    help on forensics too. Right?
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Ben Nagy []
    Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 11:59 AM
    To: Hawkins, Michael;
    Subject: RE: [fw-wiz] Username password VS hardware token plus PIN
    If you're assuming that your users will always write down passwords then the
    token is  perhaps superior because the token will often be on a keyring and
    not stolen at the same time as the laptop.
    Mainly, though, the token protects against offline password brute-forcing -
    I know you say you use strong passwords so perhaps the threat is low here.
    Other organisations may not be so trusting. The attacker has ~1 minute with
    a token versus PasswordLife with your system.
    There are other advanatges for a very few people, like duress codes etc. Not
    all that relevant.
    Finally, my RSA token allows me to select my own "secret number" instead of
    using the burned in PIN. That gets sent along with the token data each
    login, and can be changed. YMMV, I don't sell RSA stuff. ;)
    Perhaps a facile treatment, but I'm late...
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From:
    > [] On Behalf Of 
    > MHawkins@TULLIB.COM
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 4:09 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: [fw-wiz] Username password VS hardware token plus PIN
    > Hi people,
    > Here's something I've been wondering for some time now.
    > What is the value of hardware token with burned in PIN as compared to 
    > username password (when the password policy is forced strong)?
    > We enforce strong password policy in our organization. So when a user 
    > logs into the VPN, I am reasonably confident of the validity of the 
    > authentication mechanism. The only problem is if a user writes down 
    > their password and keeps it with the laptop or PC. Even then, I am 
    > confident that XX days later, the password will be different to what 
    > they wrote down (ok they will just write the new one down).
    > I fail to see the benefit of using hardware tokens that rely on a one 
    > time set PIN number (which seems to be all of them). The one time PIN 
    > burned into most USB tokens is almost guaranteed to be written down by 
    > dumb users (unfortunately of which there are many) and so the end 
    > result is that the USB token, the PIN and the laptop are all in a nice 
    > handy easy to steal location.
    > I have searched long and hard for a token that can use a username 
    > password combination along with the PIN but to no avail.
    > Why are so many organizations intent on using hardware/software 
    > tokens? What am I missing here?
    > What solutions are out there that do not use a PIN but use some 
    > username/password combination along with the hardware/software token?
    > Mike Hawkins
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