Hardware tokens can be classified into three main categories – each applicable to different levels of security, and suitable for different operations. A hardware token is different from software tokens or security codes in that they are communicated to either a person or a machine directly upon the deliberate human use of the hardware or device. Besides, the tokens are the physical objects themselves, and they carry an electronic security code generator, often like the one-time password software.
Types of hardware tokens
The function of a hardware token can be multi-level or simpler. For someone carrying a hardware security facility, the main objective is to find the secret number or code, generated as a result of a trigger. Sometimes, the trigger might require the entry of a permanent secret code. Upon entering it, the hardware device will generate the code that will allow the desired operation for one time. Hardware tokens may not have to be read by the user in all cases, as some are generated and used upon the entry of a USB stick or something similar to establish a connection with a processor. In such cases, only a specific device works as the token.
Hardware token authentication
Authentication of a token depends on the method employed around the device used. Small hand-held devices are capable of generating security codes as per the calculated algorithm when invoked. When a person is trying to access a module, application or entrance, the code has to be generated on the basis of something measurable. That can be a secret password for the user of the device, who upon entering the personal code, receives the one-time code for immediate needs. Authentication methods can also be completely software driven, which is triggered upon a human initiation of connection.
Hardware token vs Software token
A software token is essentially generated by a computer application for someone using it as a password to one time access. This is the way most hardware-token users see the software version. However, software tokens are often essential, and adds an extra level of security unlike popular opinion has it that it is a show-off and scam. Some software tokens are often meaningless when it is provided by a person using a randomizer. It is interesting to note that both hardware and software tokens are generated according to some randomized algorithm, although the data paths and devices used are different, lowering predictability.
A hardware token security arrangement is not something very new, as you might remember grandfathers using tokens in banks and other important places. However, the generation of the one time password also existed before, and it often depended on the number engraved in the token he kept with documents at home. Today, hardware tokens include the entire system so that things can be done much faster!