User Authentication: Passive USB tokens, an alternative to Passwords?

University essay from IT-universitetet i Göteborg/Tillämpad informationsteknologi

Abstract: Most personal computers today employ knowl-edge based user authentication e.g. password pro-tection. Nevertheless, password protection is re-garded as insecure. This paper investigates ifa token based authentication solution for Win-dows XP (using passive USB storage devices), cancounter any of the documented issues inherentwith password based authentication. An architec-ture for such a solution aimed at the home/smallbusiness market is presented and evaluated.The research method is based on the principlesof Design Research. The achitecture and proto-type is developed using prototyping. A litteraturestudy provides a theoretical framework used as abasis for architecture evalutation. This paper'scontribution is mainly an architecture of a tokenbased authentication solution (for Windows XP),capable of addressing many of the known prob-lems regarding password use. Conclusions includethe observed pros and cons of the suggested solu-tion, as well as recommendations regarding areasof improvement and future research.

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