RSA rolls out authentication server appliance

At the RSA Conference 2005 next week in San Francisco, RSA Security will grab the spotlight to announce its authentication server will be offered in appliance form for the first time.

After 20 years as software-only, the RSA server for authenticating user identity by means of dynamic passwords generated by the SecurID handheld token will be made available in a hardware-based appliance. The RSA SecurID Appliance, as it's called, is set to ship in March for small to mid-sized businesses, according to Gary Wood, senior product manager at RSA Security.

Wood said the SecurID Appliance, which will be demoed during the conference, should make it easier for small firms to deploy strong two-factor authentication because systems administrators won't have to configure SecurID on hardware they might otherwise purchase themselves.

"With the Web-based graphical user interface, we think customers would be able to deploy this in 15 minutes," said Wood, adding RSA may also make other products available in appliance form in the future.

The gigabit-speed appliance will be based on Intel's Celeron P4 processor with 512M bytes of memory and will include Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 and RSA Authentication Manager 6.0 software.

The appliance, targeted for use by firms with up to 1,000 employees, will be sold with SecurID tokens bundled in for specific numbers of users. The prices are expected to range from $4,000, for the appliance plus 10 SecurID tokens, to US$37,500 for 250 SecurID tokens and the appliance.

Using encryption, the SecurID handheld token can generate a password that changes every minute, making it far more secure than reusable simple passwords. The RSA authentication server recognizes the dynamic, variable password generated by the SecurID token, which is typically used to gain remote access.

RSA Security counts 17,000 businesses currently using the SecurID authentication server and estimates 20 million SecurID tokens have been shipped over the course of the decades since its introduction.

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