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it security As technology continues to evolve, it looks like the user-name-and-password approach to securing IT systems may finally be heading toward a long overdue retirement. In fact, a new survey from Accenture finds that 77 percent of consumers are now open to alternative approaches.

For IT services firms, the interest in everything from two-factor authentication using smart watches to emerging 3D visualization software offers a big opportunity to help organizations reinvent how they manage security.

Three developments shaping IT security 

In terms of IT security, the password has proven to be the most vulnerable of defenses. Too many end users can’t remember them, so they make up something relatively simple to crack. At the same time, sophisticated spear phishing attacks fool end users into logging into bogus services that enable cyber criminals to capture both their user names and passwords. This renders millions of dollars invested in IT security technologies all but useless.

The good news is that technology, as usual, marches on. In fact, there are three technology developments that have the potential to shore up security in ways that will make IT security much more robust than it is today.

1. Two-factor authentication

The first development is two-factor authentication that makes use of smart watches. While the smart watch is far from ubiquitous these days, it is almost always paired with a smartphone. Using two-factor authentication techniques that require both the smartphone and smart watch to be present will go a long way to ensuring the person accessing a Web service is actually who they claim to be. Of course, the second device used for authentication doesn’t necessarily have to be a smart watch. But, so far the smart watch offers the best chance for implementing a two-factor authentication scheme that doesn’t have to rely on remote third-party services to authenticate a user.

2. 3D cameras embedded in PCs

A second approach to enhancing IT security in a way that hackers will find difficult to overcome is something being pursued by Intel. For the past year or so, Intel has been promoting the adoption of RealSense software that uses of 3D cameras embedded in PCs. Those cameras will primarily be used to support a range of 3D gaming and business applications that Intel hopes to see become broadly adopted. As part of that shift, though, Intel expects the PC to be able to use those cameras to visually confirm the identity of the end user.

3. Cortana digital assistant

Finally, a third approach being pursued by Microsoft will take the 3D camera concept a step further. The Cortana personal digital assistant software can recognize individual speech patterns. Microsoft has even combined Cortana with Microsoft Kinect software to recognize both the image and speech patterns of the end user to confirm identity.

It will require a little more time before any of these advances are adopted widely enough to put an end to the reliance on passwords. But there are working demos of how each of these technologies can be used to not only enhance the user experience, but also make that experience more secure.

For IT service providers, these advances should soon provide a wealth of technology opportunities that almost as a byproduct of their implementation wind up finally addressing a raft of issues that currently play havoc with IT security.

Photo Credit: Dev.Arka on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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