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Google's "Two-Step Verification"

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Kudos to Google for putting more security around their authentication for Google Apps. Apparently, two-step authentication will be coming to Gmail as well once they feel comfortable.

Two-step authentication is clearly aimed at consumers that want more security and not Enterprises.  In the installation instructions, it states:

Note: You can’t force your users to use two-step verification, they must opt-in themselves.

You also cannot use SAML for SSO and Two-step verification.  This means that if you are an Enterprise that use Google Apps and Salesforce, for example, you will want to use SAML for SSO and two-factor authentication. 

It looks like there is an option to "Remember verification for this computer".  (I have not seen this option in my tests, but it there is something being set.  If I sign out and close the browser, I am not prompted for the verification when I re-open the browser, just the username and password.)  I believe that stronger authentication systems need to make things as easy as possible for the user.  This option though should be in control of the enterprise for it to be an enterprise solution.

Enterprises may move a good bit of their infrastructure to the cloud, but they will still have a network and will still need a firewall and VPN.  So most will still need a strong authentication system that works with VPNs, which means Radius, LDAP or TACACS support.  While you can put your WiKID server "in the cloud", I still think it makes the most sense to keep the keys to the kingdom close to home.

So, it's not for Enterprises, but for consumers, Google Two-step authentication is definitely a step in the right direction. I admire the code release under open source licenses.  I will point out what one privacy wag has said:

Nice, Google is rolling out "something you know" & "something we'd like to know" in their new auth scheme.

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