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‘LOVE BUG’ Virus Raises New Concerns About Password Security

BEDFORD, Mass. (DJC) – As more information becomes available on the “Love
Bug” virus, RSA Laboratories, the research center of RSA Security Inc
(Nasdaq: RSAS), warns that simple passwords are an inadequate form of
security authentication in today’s e-business driven world. The
infamous “ILOVEYOU” virus is now reported to have affected close to 10
million
computers worldwide in an attempted identity theft scheme in which emails
around the world were hacked and passwords were stolen and copied and then
sent to a rogue Web site in the Philippines. RSA Laboratories believes that
this incident provides compelling proof of the risks individuals and
businesses run every day if they rely on passwords to secure access to
critical information and system resources.

Passwords are a static, single-factor form of authentication that RSA
Laboratories believes are insufficient because they are easily stolen or
otherwise compromised. For example, users choose a password once and often
store it on the machine so they don’t have to remember it. Often they use
the
same password to access home bank accounts, favorite shopping sites where
personal credit card details are stored, and corporate extranets and
networks
where sensitive information can be easily accessed. As evidenced by the
recent love bug virus, this widespread practice of using weak passwords
presents a security risk and exposes businesses and individuals to identity
and information theft.

Many organizations, however, have already deployed
stronger
security in
the form of two-factor authentication solutions. Two-factor authentication
enables access to specific resources only if users are able to provide two
(or
more) distinct forms of identification. One common application of
two-factor
authentication is a bank, where ATM transactions require the user to present
two forms of identification — an ATM card and a PIN. To “hack” an account,
an imposter would have to obtain not only the bankcard but also the secret
PIN.

“With the phenomenal growth in e-business around the world, the potential
damage caused by viruses containing password compromising code is huge,”
said
Piotr Stepniak, director of marketing at Lukas Bank. “As one of the first
e-
banks in Europe, Lukas bank recognized this enormous business risk and
decided
that a much stronger method of authentication was necessary for our users.
To
this end we have recently deployed the leading solution available — RSA
SecurID — providing both Lukas bank and our customer base with the
confidence
needed to bank electronically.”

“Password authentication is often the first faulty line of defense in e-
business. Passwords are usually the weakest link in any online
communication
or transaction,” said Scott Schnell, senior vice president of marketing at
RSA
Security. “The threat posed by The Love Bug and other recent breaches
provides ample reason for businesses and individuals to reconsider the use
of
passwords — whether to access a corporate system or individual desktop, a
favorite Web site, a digital certificate or an online banking application.”

RSA Security is a leading provider of strong authentication solutions.
RSA SecurID(R) is designed to provide secure, two-factor authentication-to
positively identify users before they gain access to confidential financial
and personal information on corporate networks and Web sites.

To help prevent unauthorized use or access, RSA SecurID is an electronic ID
that is combined
with the user’s secret PIN ensuring that only the rightful holder of the RSA
SecurID device can access a Web site or corporate network. RSA SecurID
authentication solutions are available in several forms, including
cryptographic smart cards that store digital credentials in a Public Key
Infrastructure (PKI) environment, “zero footprint” key fob implementations
that require no reader or user software, and versions that can be installed
onto a PC, Palm Pilot or mobile phone.

www.rsasecurity.com

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