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Authentication Factors

Authentication factors, also known as credentials, are the mechanisms that a user can use to assert his identity to a system or application.

Broadly, credentials fall into three categories: categories:

  • Something the user knows -- i.e., a secret, such as a password, PIN or the answer to a security question.
  • Something the user has, such as a one time password token, smart card or mobile phone.
  • Something the user is, meaning a biometric measurement of the user -- his voice print, finger print, vein pattern scan, iris or retina scan or some behaviour, such as his typing cadence.

The most popular authentication factor have historically been, and remain, passwords and PINs. This is because of their low cost to deploy, ubiquitous access from any device or location and well understood characteristics.

Authentication factors may be combined into multi-factor authentication. This is done to increase the security of the process. Multi-factor authentication is normally formed by combining a physical or biometric factor with a PIN. For example, bank cards, smart cards and one time password devices are all normally activated with a PIN.

Hitachi ID Password Manager is a solution that helps users to more effectively manage their already-existing credentials and resolve problems such as forgotten passwords or PINs in a self-service fashion.

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