Microsoft and computer security vendor RSA Security said Tuesday that they will jointly release a new authentication technology using RSA's SecurID tokens to provide better password protection into Windows operating systems.
RSA Security, known for its SecurID products that authenticate users logging into networks, said that the new offering would make it easier for businesses to protect their networks by providing tighter security at the point at which users enter their computer desktop.
"It's definitely going to first appeal to businesses," said Scott Schnell, vice president of marketing at Bedford, Massachusetts-based RSA Security.
Schnell said that corporate information technology departments would no longer have to adopt costly layers of authentication within their networks, such as separate passwords for expensing or Internet access, and could instead rely on a single user authenticated to a Windows program.
Windows, which runs on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers, can be password protected, but up to now has never been integrated with a more stringent authentication system like SecurID.
Michael Atalla, a business development manager at Microsoft's security unit, said the new offering between Microsoft and RSA Security was a key step in Microsoft's two-year-old Trustworthy Computing initiative.
"Strong authentication is a fundamental security need," Atalla said.
The announcement between the two companies, which have also been working on authentication products, came at the start of RSA Security's annual security conference in San Francisco, where Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.
The two companies said that the new authentication technology would be available to businesses in the September quarter, and that customers would be required to have Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, along with the latest license and RSA Security software and tokens.