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Cape Town company hits spyware where it hurts

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FiveBarGate, a division of Global Kinetic and a certified Microsoft partner in Cape Town, has launched a security product, called FiveBarGate, which is aimed at protecting consumers’ login details for online – particularly Internet banking – accounts.

FiveBarGate uses two-factor authentication, which adds another layer of protection to the traditional one-factor “username and password” login scenario for online accounts.  
“One-factor authentication works by identifying you by ‘something you know’ (i.e. a username and password),” says Martin Dippenaar, CEO of FiveBarGate.
“However, two-factor authentication adds the element of ‘something you have’ to the login process, requiring you to have some form of token to gain access to a secure website.”
Similar tokens (such as Secure Tags and DigiTags) have been in circulation in many different industry sectors for years, but this often required that users carry a separate device around in order to authenticate themselves when logging onto a secure website or into an Internet banking application.
While this did make logging into websites a lot more secure, it became tiresome to ensure that the device was always at hand, which lead to an “I couldn’t be bothered” mentality within user bases.
“In FiveBarGate’s case, this token comes in the form of a small piece of software installed on the customer’s mobile device – whether the device is a Java- enabled or Symbian-based cellphone, Windows Mobile-based smart device or standalone PDA,” Dippenaar says.
“Mobile devices such as PDAs and cellphones are ubiquitous in today’s society.  This adds the much-needed element of convenience to the concept of two-factor authentication – making it a lot more viable for the everyday person-on-the-street."
Users merely input their username and password into the application on their mobile device, which generates a unique one-time alphanumeric GateKey.  Users then utilise this GateKey in combination with their usernames to sign into the site and gain access.
Dippenaar says that banks or companies that want to incorporate FiveBarGate functionality into their online systems are not required to invest a large amount of money for the redevelopment of their systems.
“Depending on the system configuration, rolling out FiveBarGate can be as simple as installing a small server-based application and changing the login screen of the site to require a username and GateKey,” he says.
FiveBarGate aims to secure the weak link in the login process – the need to input a password while spyware, keyloggers or hackers may be watching your every move.
The Internet is full of threats such as Spyware and hackers, whose sole purpose it is to steal your usernames and passwords.  This is a big problem, especially in the financial service sector, where people are accessing their bank accounts and other very confidential information over the Internet.
Although South Africans are slowly becoming more security savvy when making use of the Internet, hackers are becoming ever more sophisticated in the methods they use to steal your information, which means that the current security and authentication technologies being used online aren’t enough anymore.
“That’s what makes two-factor authentication like FiveBarGate so appealing," says Dippenaar. "When it’s implemented in a fashion that is both secure for companies and convenient for their customers to use, it doesn’t matter how much spyware is present on your computer, there is no way that hackers can steal your passwords."