Ways to Secure Identity and Authentication
The best practices for identity include integrating two-factor authentication with network access control. This will help manage access to network resources (applications and information) that require protection.
Passwords are often the preferred means to identify a person. Their popularity derives from their ease of use. The future of network security and access control will depend on a more secure identity than passwords alone. There are too many problems with password-only authentication as users tend to forget them, are cracked by hackers, captured through key-loggers, or given away by the users themselves. Therefore, to overcome many of the password concerns, biometric devices, smartcards and tokens have been utilized for user authentication.
Biometric devices are able to scan what something is. They use a hardware/software configuration that can secure a person's identity and authentication. These devices are fairly effective, reliable and accurate for many users; and for some organizations, it has been their choice in securing environments. If a biometric system is applied to either a computer or a secured space, it alone can provide sufficient identity and authentication; but, used in addition to passwords it provides the "something you know" component as well. Together, using passwords and biometric control access devices (applying two-factor authentication) can increase security.
If biometric devices are too costly, the two-factor authentication can also be implemented by using a small token card. Now, this compact electronic device provides the "something you have" component. In attempting to authenticate (login), the system verifies someone's identity to prove that he is the person he claims to be. Again, if used together with passwords--applying two-factor authentication--they, too, just like with biometric devices, can also secure identity and authentication.
* For more authentication alternatives, see Clemmer's article: Authentication: Password Alternatives