Today's Paper

One-time password makes e-business safer

Special Correspondent

Number of Internet users expected to cross one billion

Bangalore: The number of Internet users is expected to cross one billion by the end of 2007 — and recent developments such as enabling web addresses in non-Roman scripts such as Chinese, Hindi and Tamil, are expected to double this number quite quickly. This is good news for the nascent Net-driven commerce in India — but will the wide-spread unease of many lay users with security issues, dampen the whole business of buying and selling?

Not if some newly available technology is adopted by e-biz players such as banks and Web commerce sites.

At a special briefing for The Hindu recently, Francis Castello, Verisign’s Business Manager for Authentication Services in Asia-Pacific, unveiled a new Unified Authentication tool that integrates the secure transaction needs of customers with multiple sellers. A tiny device known as a One Time Password or OTP token, generates a new six digit password for every new Net transaction — like booking a train or air ticket or buying a book or CD. If the payment gateway — typically a credit card agency or a pure Internet pay service such as PayMate or PayPal — has signed up for the Verisign Unified service, it will pass the payment only if the randomly generated token number keyed in by the customer matches the number at the payment end.

This is an added level of security over and above the normal user name and password combination used by most consumer e-business sites today, explained Mr. Castello, who is here to publicise this added security technology. What is more, it enables secure payments to be made even from devices such as a mobile phone.

The technology is already being used by banks and credit card players — but only for their corporate clients. Verisign hopes it will soon be available for the rest of us.

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