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VeriSign expands its two-factor token network

The security company wants two-factor token authentication to be as easy and as secure as using an ATM network.

On Wednesday, VeriSign invited companies to join their VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Network by announcing the VIP Quick Start. As encouragement, vendors who sign up between now and September 30 will receive 5,000 free tokens to distribute to their customers. The customers can then use the tokens on any of the participating VIP sites.

VIP is part of a two-factor authentication process created by VeriSign. Customers are given tokens or cards that display a digital password that's time-synced with a server on the corporate bank end. When one goes to access the site, you simply enter the digital code displayed on the token or card. The code is then refreshed. This extra step in using one-time passwords is designed to prevent Internet identity theft, phishing, and online financial fraud.

The news on Wednesday is that many sites, including the initial dozen or so that have been testing the program, will now offer the use of the VeriSign tokens or cards, so that if you register with Charles Schwab, you can use the token on eBay as well.

Fran Rosch, vice president of identity and authentication services at VeriSign, likened the experience to using an ATM. "You can go to any ATM, even one that isn't your own bank's, and still withdraw cash so long as your bank card includes one of the ATM network logos (for example, Plus or Star)." With the VIP token, a customer need only to see the VeriSign Identity Protection logo to use the token on that site.

At next week's RSA 2008 conference in San Francisco, VeriSign will hand out tokens to participants who register with VeriSign at the show, while supplies last.