Human Factors Used in Authentication

You learned about using passwords, tokens, and biometrics to authenticate a user. Authentication factors are discussed in terms of something you know, something you have, and something you are. This article explains these three factors.

Chapter 6: Information Systems Security

Sidebar: Virtual Private Networks

Using firewalls and other security technologies, organizations can effectively protect many of their information resources by making them invisible to the outside world. But what if an employee working from home requires access to some of these resources? What if a consultant is hired who needs to do work on the internal corporate network from a remote location? In these cases, a virtual private network (VPN) is called for.

A VPN allows a user who is outside of a corporate network to take a detour around the firewall and access the internal network from the outside. Through a combination of software and security measures, this lets an organization allow limited access to its networks while at the same time ensuring overall security.

Physical Security

An organization can implement the best authentication scheme in the world, develop the best access control, and install firewalls and intrusion prevention, but its security cannot be complete without implementation of physical security. Physical security is the protection of the actual hardware and networking components that store and transmit information resources. To implement physical security, an organization must identify all of the vulnerable resources and take measures to ensure that these resources cannot be physically tampered with or stolen. These measures include the following.

  • Locked doors: It may seem obvious, but all the security in the world is useless if an intruder can simply walk in and physically remove a computing device. High-value information assets should be secured in a location with limited access.
  • Physical intrusion detection: High-value information assets should be monitored through the use of security cameras and other means to detect unauthorized access to the physical locations where they exist.
  • Secured equipment: Devices should be locked down to prevent them from being stolen. One employee's hard drive could contain all of your customer information, so it is essential that it be secured.
  • Environmental monitoring: An organization's servers and other high-value equipment should always be kept in a room that is monitored for temperature, humidity, and airflow. The risk of a server failure rises when these factors go out of a specified range.
  • Employee training: One of the most common ways thieves steal corporate information is to steal employee laptops while employees are traveling. Employees should be trained to secure their equipment whenever they are away from the office.