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Power LogOn Password Manager/Administrator

By Kim Plonsky

November/December 2007 Table of Contents


The Electronic Age has wrought necessary evils: Password administration, security and management devices no longer are merely annoyances, but instead, perhaps, the most critical security measures for nearly everyone and every business. With so much data electronically transmitted, and rampant online identity theft and fraud in the news every day, the time to get serious about these issues is … yesterday!

If, like most people, you access more than a dozen secure Web sites daily, keeping track of login information can be quite arduous and time-consuming. A devout advocate of automating and securing login data for the past several years, I have relied primarily on biometric fingerprint readers as alternatives to keeping a log, written or stored, as a file on my PC. While the fingerprint readers work well, these external devices are limiting and they are useless on any PC other than my own.

Access Smart’s Power LogOn Password Manager and Password Administrator use smart card technology with smart cards the size of credit cards and embedded computer chips that hold up to 100 passwords, securely storing information such as credit card numbers. These authentication devices protect sensitive data through encryption — one of the most secure methods of data transfer currently available, and because computers don’t recognize smart cards as storage devices, they are invisible to hackers.

Power LogOn features random-character password generation for creating secure passwords, and thoughtfully offers a variety of hardware interfaces, or smart card readers. Three different universal serial bus readers are offered, which plug into any standard USB 2.0 connector on a PC: The desktop reader, the Slim Card reader and the USB Token reader. The desktop reader is small, and it comes with two mounting bases so it can stand vertically on your desktop. It also can be mounted to any surface using the self-adhesive base. As its name suggests, the Slim Card reader is a slim smart card reader that plugs into any USB port on a PC, and looks similar to a flash card reader. The USB Token reader is approximately the size of, and looks very similar to, a standard USB flash or jump drive. What is unique about the Token reader is that it employs a SIM card (similar to the ones used in cell phones) to store Power LogOn data, allowing it to function as a combination reader/smart card.

For notebook PC users, Power LogOn offers two card readers that fit into the appropriate input-output port. A Personal Computer Memory Card International Association reader is available for use with older notebook PCs that have CardBus slots, as well as the newer and faster ExpressCard reader, for late-model notebook PCs with ExpressCard slots.

A winning feature of Power LogOn is that its smart cards can be used on any PC with a reader and the software installed. What is more, the software can be installed on any number of PCs at no additional cost. One of my favorite options is the ability to choose to log in to Web sites in the background, bypassing the display of access or login pages and making secure access seamless and efficient. One other benefit of bypassing login routines is that login information — and even the identity of access sites — is kept safe from prying eyes. Another way to maximize protection of login data is the option to keep entry data private, which displays entry data as asterisks. (Passwords always display as asterisks in Power LogOn.) The Password Change feature is a great way to enhance security by setting up reminders to change passwords at time increments of your choice, with the option to verify that the password change was successful on the Web site or in the application.

With Power LogOn Password Administrator, a companion product designed for businesses, administrators can assign, issue, manage and revoke Password Manager smart cards. Password Administrator is a powerful tool for companies to grant and revoke employee permissions for, and access to, secure information, and to strictly enforce and control company security policies.

Because all smart card data can be backed up on storage media (DVD/CD, external or portable disk drives, online storage), the same as any other PC data, lost or destroyed smart cards are not a problem; simply issue a new smart card and restore the data. Once the card is removed from the reader, the user can automatically be logged off or even have the computer shut itself off.

Power LogOn minimizes electronic data security and privacy worries, providing a method to the madness that password entry, security and management have quickly become. This software and hardware combination earns my sterling recommendation: Before the 60-day trial period is up, I will be buying it, along with a portable USB Token Reader for traveling with my notebook PC.


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