by CIO Staff

ActivIdentity Speeds Single Sign-On for Shared PCs

Nov 08, 20063 mins

ActivIdentity is preparing an extension to its SecureLogin single sign-on product that will allow users of shared PCs running Windows to switch sessions faster. The new product is on display at the Cartes show near Paris this week.

With SecureLogin, users sign on once as they start their Windows session. ActivIdentity’s product then logs them in to all their other applications automatically, drawing the necessary user names and passwords either from an encrypted local store, or from an enterprise lightweight directory access protocol server.

That’s all very well for situations where each PC has one user, but in busy environments where the PC is used more as a kiosk, starting a new Windows session each time a new user logs in can be too slow, said ActivIdentity’s Marc Puverel. That’s why ActivIdentity is introducing a new module, SecureLogin Kiosk, that will automatically lock the PC’s screen when a user leaves the computer, and log off or shut down the applications when a new user turns up, all while keeping the current Windows session active.

At the Cartes show, ActivIdentity demonstrated the SecureLogin Kiosk running with additional software and hardware that detected the presence of contactless smart cards. When an authorized user approached the PC with a contactless smart card, the PC displayed the corresponding user name and asked for the password. With the correct password, the PC opened and logged on to the user’s favorite applications.

When the PC no longer detected the smart card nearby, it locked the screen and asked for the password again. Other users could log on to the PC in that state, but they would be warned that this would result in the closing of the first user’s applications and the loss of any unsaved work.

Frederic Grange, another ActivIdentity spokesman, said a future version of the software could be improved to allow more graceful log-off, but for now, users of the Kiosk software must understand that the PC is a shared resource, not a personal one.

The rapid switching from one user allowed by SecureLogin Kiosk is suited to environments such as hospitals, where doctors move from terminal to terminal, said Loic Caradec, ActivIdentity’s sales director for southern Europe. “The contactless smart card technology is a little expensive; we’ll see whether that’s acceptable in the enterprise,” he said.

The Kiosk software itself is an extension of the SecureLogin product, and increases the per-seat cost by about a third, Caradec said.

Although ActivIdentity has not formally released SecureLogin Kiosk, a number of its resellers are listing it for sale at prices between US$15 and $30 a seat.

SecureLogin competes with desktop single sign-on tools from many vendors, among them Evidian’s Secure Access Manager or CA’s eTrust Single Sign-On.

Cartes, at the Parc des Expositions on the outskirts of Paris, runs through Thursday.

-Peter Sayer, IDG News Service (Paris Bureau)

Related Link:

  • U.S. Agencies Choose ActivIdentity for Smart Cards

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.