Govt looks at secure USB and authentication token

Ironkey devices are already being used by the Police e-crime unit, among others, says distributor

Several government agencies are looking at use of the Ironkey, a secure USB flash memory device which can double as a two-factor authentication token and secure password storage and management device.

Ironkey co-founder and chief technical officer Gil Spencer briefly visited New Zealand last week and told Computerworld he would be seeing a number of potential local users.

Representatives of Police and the Department of Internal Affairs spoke with Spencer after an address in Wellington. The Police representative said Police are evaluating use of the key, while the Internal Affairs man expressed interest in the role it could play in the igovt authentication service.

He told Spencer authentication tokens from Vasco are currently being considered, but the department may be interested in having a broader range of tokens available to users.

A spokeswoman for Ironkey’s local distributor, Duo, said the devices are already being used by the Police e-crime unit, Ministerial Services, the Office of the Clerk at Parliament and some parts of the Defence Force.

Asked whether a centrally coordinated all-of-government trial of Ironkey might be in prospect, she said that is “a possibility”, but declined to comment further, or to say which agencies Spencer was being taken to see.

Comment was sought from the State Services Commission, but no confirmation or denial of the prospect of an all-of-government trial was forthcoming by deadline.

The Ironkey comes in Basic, Personal and Enterprise versions. The first is designed for stand-alone computers but the latter two can interface with an organisation’s network or work through the internet for administration of security keys, management of virtual private networks and enforcement of enterprise security policies.

Ironkey Personal and Enterprise occasionally “phones home” to the Ironkey website to check for updates and for reassurance of its continued validity as an anti-theft precaution.

Several potential users at the presentation expressed nervousness about trusting any kind of confidential communication to the internet. For such users, Ironkey is working on a dedicated appliance for managing keys without internet access.

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