CRYPTOCard's CRYPTO-Server 6.3 for OS X
Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Review
CRYPTOCard's CRYPTO-Server 6.3 for OS X:
Eliminate Insecure Static Passwords
by MacTech Staff
It is no secret that static passwords are the weakest link in the security chain, but until recently, there really was no Mac-specific alternative. That all changed when authentication technology vendor CRYPTOCard released its first two-factor authentication solution for OS X Panther at MacWorld 2004 - winning a MacWorld "Best of Show" award in the process.
CRYPTOCard has now launched a new version of its CRYPTO-Server authentication solution for OS X Tiger. Again, the basic premise of this technology is simple - it replaces inherently weak static passwords with secure two-factor authentication. To log on to a protected network or resource, a user must combine their security PIN (something only they know) with a one-time passcode that is randomly generated by their token for each logon (something only they have).
The new version of CRYPTO-Server does a good job of leveraging Tiger's robust support for smart card environments, but users can also opt for PIN pad tokens, key chain tokens, or software tokens. Each form factor offers unique advantages and characteristics, enabling organizations to tailor their authentication solution according to their own needs. Hardware tokens feature field-replaceable batteries that can be swapped in-service to extend device lifespan indefinitely.
We are pleased to report that our experience testing the new Tiger product was a good one. The CRYPTO-Server package contained everything required to set up the solution, and the instruction manual was clear, accurate, and easy to follow. The product emphasizes ease-of-use and tight integration with Apple's Open Directory LDAP services and as a result, installation was straightforward and relatively painless. There are also features that will simplify implementation in a real-world environment, such as a self-enrolment component called CRYPTO-Deploy, which enables users to remotely assign and activate their hardware tokens via a Web page.
Once the CRYPTO-Server install is completed, a user will need to install the CRYPTO-Console module, an intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI) which provides the management interface to CRYPTO-Server. CRYPTO-Console enables administrators to manage tokens, users (in non-LDAP deployments), and groups, while also providing server licensing, system configuration, and reporting functions.
The CRYPTO-Console interface is well thought out and easy to navigate, providing administrators with screens for viewing/editing users, tokens, containers, objects, and attributes. Search functions accept regular expressions for ease of use and the GUI architecture is logical and intuitive. Detailed management options are available by highlighting an object, and then Ctrl-clicking it to display drop-down menu items.
The solution appears to be extremely flexible, and can easily be enhanced and expanded with a variety of agents and plug-ins that extend strong two-factor authentication to existing Web, mail, and other security appliance infrastructure nodes. For example, the CRYPTO-Logon for Mac OS X component makes it easy for Mac users attempting to gain secure LAN, Web, or remote access to authenticate themselves by simply inserting their smart card and entering their PIN.
All CRYPTO-Server tokens generate a unique password for every logon attempt, which makes stolen credentials useless to hackers, while simultaneously ensuring Tiger and Panther users do not have to memorize complicated credentials. CRYPTOCard points out that this can significantly reduce the help-desk costs associated with password management while simultaneously eliminating the obvious security risks of "shoulder surfing" and users writing down their passwords.
CRYPTO-Server is also the first solution we have tested that supports two-factor authentication for Apache Web servers via its CRYPTO-Web component. (If you know of others, please let us know!) Using CRYPTO-Web we were able to secure a website, and then authenticate to it with a configured token. CRYPTO-Web should make it a simple process for administrators to secure websites by requiring users to authenticate with their token in order to gain access. Companies can also leverage out-of-the-box interoperability with network entities that provide native RADIUS support.
Unlike CRYPTOCard's original OS X offering, which only provided client side authentication, the latest version of CRYPTO-Server for OS X also provides enterprise-ready functionality like "High Availability" which utilizes real-time multi-master replication functionality to ensure there is no single point of breakdown by switching to a replica server in the event of system failure. This is important as it means that the authentication solution can now meet the security needs of any sized organization.
Another unique feature of CRYPTO-Server is that it offers cross-platform capability. This is important news for the majority of organizations that employ heterogeneous network environments in which any combination of Windows, Linux, or OS X servers can support any client/end-user systems running on any of the three platforms.
Other useful CRYPTO-Server features include RSA migration functionality that enables RSA SecurID DES tokens to be imported into the CRYPTO-Server, and CRYPTO-Kit, a software developer's kit that provides developers with the tools required to integrate CRYPTOCard's technology with existing security applications/systems.
We found CRYPTO-Server for OS X to be very well thought out. Documentation is simple to follow, and the product does a good job of supporting authentication requirements, including a full compliment of token form factors which should make it simple for any sized organization to customize an authentication solution to meet security requirements. The technology makes system configuration simple for administrators, while the familiar ATM-style logon process is easy for users to grasp.
CRYPTOCard was the first authentication vendor to provide real two-factor authentication for the Mac, and we found that the latest version of its technology gives the company a good basis to claim leadership in the OS X authentication marketplace.
CRYPTO-Server for OS X is available in a "Five-User Kit," which includes full server software, five tokens of the user's choice, and 30 days support, for $499. This compares favorably with other similar products from other large, well-established vendors. The innovative all-you-need-in-one-box format also makes it simple for an organization to build their security solution as required. CRYPTOCard offers a free trial download of the CRYPTO-Server technology on its website at www.cryptocard.com.
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