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[September 21, 2004]


AOL Offers a Second Security Blanket




Internet service provider America Online (news - quote) is now offering customers a new log-on security feature that goes beyond password identification. A technology that is common in Brazil and Scandinavia, this authentication system will be released on Tuesday for an additional cost to the monthly AOL subscription fees.

Originally directed at small businesses, this offering is available to consumers as scammers are finding new and improved ways of hacking their way into personal information that is passed via online.

Two-factor authentication solutions authenticate users based on two-factors: knowledge and possession. Both a device and a PIN are required to unlock a device, such as a smart card or token. Interested subscribers will receive such a similar device, courtesy of RSA Security, Inc., which will show a six digit code that changes every minute, acting as a second password. This password is essential for logging on so that scammers are unable to access an account unless they have the device handy.

According to Scott Schnell, senior vice president of RSA Security, "you don't have to remember complicated passwords to still have good security."

The added security will not offer protection once a user is outside AOL, utilizing third-party services, unless sensitive information is being sent directly to an AOL account.

Perhaps such a technology will serve as a wake-up call for other ISP's in an effort to protect their consumer's personal information and to thwart scammers from identity theft. The only reservation, according to Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, is that customers may find these devices and technologies too difficult to use. 

The service is available for $1.95 per month, in addition to a one-time $9.95 activation fee.



RSA Security




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