With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the enterprise authentication space now sits at an important inflection point. What we are seeing is a gradual, cross-vertical realization that traditional authentication models do not scale well into the evolving IoT workplace. The reason for this is that IoT infrastructure has the ability (and often, the need) to infer user presence, something we used to infer through “authentication” events, then extend (often blindly) for the duration of a session. Enter the concept of “Always On Authentication”.
By shifting authentication from a point-in-time event to an ever-present state, and by bootstrapping that state with a highly secure authentication event, we have created a system that allows for user presence to be inferred with a high degree of confidence. Take for example the simple action of locking a PC. The reason a corporate policy administrator would mandate your PC to lock after 1 minute of inactivity is because your PC has no way of knowing you are there. Now imagine that your PC is tethered to you - the user, wirelessly verifying your presence every second. If you leave for a meeting, your PC knows you’ve left and it locks automatically. When you come back, it knows you are there and unlocks with the touch of the keyboard. This is the nature of Nymi’s collaboration with Microsoft and the Companion Device framework - an application that provides a sample of how the workplace is evolving.
The Nymi Companion Device App allows the user to unlock their Windows 10 PC, simply by double tapping on their authenticated Nymi Band.
In many industrial IoT applications, however, the need for strong user presence is of critical importance and it’s in these environments that Nymi has found some of its most important of use cases. Using a manufacturing environment, let’s look at an example of how Always On Authentication can greatly improve both security (data integrity) as well as productivity.
A lab technician at a large manufacturing company must perform several tasks a day, each one requiring the identification of the employee to the system in question. The action could be the weighing of a material for manufacturing purposes, the testing of a sample or the quality assurance sign-off for a batch. In the pre-digital era, these important tasks were verified by pen and paper signatures and more recently, have been replaced by usernames and passwords. In some cases, over the course of a single shift, a user may be required to authenticate via username and password over 100 times, creating both a productivity problem, but also propagating an old, but very important data integrity problem: the fact that there is very little assurance that the intended user is the one who actually performed the action.
Enter the Nymi Band - a solution that replaces point-in-time authentication with true user presence and creates a high integrity data trail.
This latest use case is supported by Nymi’s partners, such as Atos and the integration of the Nymi Band into the Evidian Single Sign On solution.