(This is a commentary follow up to my earlier post, located here.)
A couple of folks have commented on Twitter that they have a fear of using SMS for any sort of security operations. There have been discussions about the insecurity of SMS and the lack of attention to protecting the cellular network by carriers around the world. I generally disagree with blanket statements, and I would push for organizations considering SMS as a means of authentication to undertake a real risk assessment of the process before they jump in.
However, if the controls in place in the cell networks meet their appetite for risk, then I think it is a perfectly acceptable business case. It certainly beats in-band simple authentication mechanisms like “pictures of trust” and traditional login/password as a security control.
At least in SMS authentication, the attacker would usually need to have control over or access to more than one device belonging to the user. I think this helps make the risk model more acceptable for my views.
Other folks discussed how Out of Band Authentication (OOBA) has been done now successfully in many places. I agree with this. We know how to do it. There are a LOT of vendors out there who can successfully integrate, deploy and manage a solution for you. Sadly, though, there are still more than a few who are struggling to get it right or done at all. As with most things in life, it helps to do a little research. Organizations should perform due diligence on their vendors and factor vendor risks into the equation of purchases and project planning.
Lastly, a few folks commented on the fact that they, too, are running into speed bumps with deployments and logistics. Several folks echoed the sentiments of the original challenges and few offered suggestions beyond simply “doing more homework” and looking for “quickly scalable solutions”. The good news with this is that you are not alone out there. Other folks are facing AND BEATING challenges. Feel free to reach out to your peers and discuss what is and what isn’t working for them.
As per the original post, the more communication and discussion we can have amongst the community about these topics, the better off we all will be. So, discuss, seriously…
##Special thanks to the vendors that replied with case studies, references or stories about how they have done integration and deployment. There are a lot of good vendors out there with knowledge in this area. Careful review of their capabilities will help you sort them out from the less capable. Communication is key.
Thanks for reading!