VeriSign Identity Protection - an interesting approach

I still remember some tough discussions I had with eBay in 2004 when we had just started KCP around there missing investments in secure, strong authentication. Interestingly eBay and PayPal are amongst the first now to use VeriSign Identity Protection, abbreviated as VIP. And they start in the German market to roll out this technology.

Basically VIP is sort of a combination of strong authentication with a user-centric identity which can be used with different vendors and other companies in the market. The user requires a token which provides an OTP (one time password) which is used for authentication. Nothing new, so far. But: The VIP network is designed to support multiple partners and it uses only one token. Thus it addresses two of the biggest obstacles of OTPs as a means for strong authentication:

  1. The cost of deploying tokens is shared and thus lower.
  2. The user has one token instead of a collection of tokens from different providers.
I really like this approach because it's a pragmatic one. And I will, for sure, test my VIP card today with my eBay account. Best of all, the token is in credit card form factor and thus very comfortable to take with me, in contrast to some other token I own.

Combine this approach with OpenID and CardSpace and you end up with a solution which isn't perfect but far more secure and usable than most of the other approaches in the market. Interestingly I had discussing about that approach with VeriSign some 18 months ago the first time. Seems, that today the market is ripe for it.


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