5 Differences Between Hardware and Software Tokens

Authentication deserves special attention when it comes to protection because its task is to make sure that the user is really who he or she claims to be. During the authorization process, the system gives access to act in the information system, and if these rights go to an outsider, the consequences can be very sad. Thus, there is a constant search for solutions that would distinguish the right user from everyone else with impeccable reliability. In this context, it becomes important to choose the necessary token – a mean of user identification for a separate session in computer networks and applications.

Types of User Recognition Means

A software token is usually an encrypted sequence of characters that allows you to accurately identify an object and determine the level of its privileges. It is generated by the system itself and is tied to a specific session, network client or data packet.

A hardware version is a device that stores a unique password or is able to generate it according to certain rules. For authentication, this option can be physically connected to a computer through a communication port or a special reader. The simplest machinery tokens just display a unique password for the current session on the integrated screen.

The Main Differences

Currently, password identification is the most common, primarily due to its only advantage – ease of use. However, in most cases, verification using a unique subject provides more serious protection. The main distinctions are the following:

  1. The digital version does not have a physical expression, it is virtual, while the hardware variant is a gadget that connects to a computer.
  2. Passwords can be generated remotely and the device that stores information for accessing the system is personal.
  3. Appliance generates cryptographic keys that are entered when connected to a computer, they are unique each time, and traditional passwords are usually static.
  4. For the operation with the machinery token, special equipment is required (readers or connectors), and for the software one, standard computer tools are sufficient.
  5. Program variants are free, apparatus options are not.

Hard Choice

The authentication code can be obtained in various ways, but it should be recognized that both digital and hardware versions are in any case more reliable than the algorithms when one-time passwords are delivered by email or SMS. Most methods of identification in information systems are based on arbitrary attributes, that is, those that do not have a direct connection with a person’s identity and can go from one user to another. So what is the best choice? There is no definite answer: both software and gadget tokens have their advantages. Whatever verification methods are used, the main thing is to apply them.

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