A security token is a random, temporary password that is generated by a specific device, or by software. This key is complemented by the one we always use when entering our data.
In other words, it is a way of creating an additional security step that goes beyond the password that we have on a personal level. Thus, having a verification via security token supposes an increase in the level of security.
This type of protection at the digital level is frequent in professional profiles, and in public profiles that have to do with data as sensitive as our relationship with the Treasury or our medical data.
Therefore, the use of a security token is often mandatory in some areas, but on a personal level, each individual chooses what level of protection they want in personal accounts, such as digital messaging services (e-mail) or video game accounts. , for instance.
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Digital protection classes
When it comes to our digital shielding, we can protect ourselves in several ways. The best known are:
- Passwords with complete requirements. That is, produce passwords with the maximum security offered by the platform. If to generate an e-mail, they give you the option to enter symbols and combine uppercase, lowercase and numbers, it is recommended to use all the available options.
- Geolocation control. This security filter tries to detect if the user who is trying (or has already entered) the account in question, is trustworthy or not. An example could be that if we are in Spain, the system will not see as a normal act, that they connect to our profile from the US.
- Two-Step Verification. These types of checks are the most popular, since to possess them we must approve a trusted device in which to host them. They consist of a review via SMS or token, in which they will send us a password that we must authenticate in a certain time (Time-based One-time Password, TOTP), or not (HMAC-based One-time Password, HOTP) . Without this authentication, even if we enter our password, we will not be able to enter the digital account or profile.
Therefore, two-step verification is the way the security token is generated. However, security tokens, unlike the way an SMS is used, do not necessarily require a device connected to the mobile network.
Security Token Types
The two types of token that occur in the field of security are:
- Hardware token.
- Software Tokens.
These tokens fulfill the same task, but in a different way, since, although both tokens serve the same purpose (create a One Time Password, OTP), they do not work in the same way.
On the one hand, the hardware token consists of a mobile device that is aimed solely at generating a token. You don’t need to connect to the network, but losing or misplacing it could cause a problem.
On the other hand, the software token, as we have already mentioned, serves the same purpose, but its way of acting is different. It is a software that the user can choose on which device to host, whether it is a mobile phone, a PC or a smartwatch, the issue is to host it on a device with Internet access. In this case, in the event of a loss, we will proceed to cancel access from another mobile device and the problem would be resolved.
Security Token Usage Examples
Although it is true that security tokens can be extrapolated to almost any digital account, whether professional or not, these types of security measures are common in:
- Companies with a high technological component. This is due to the fact that data traffic and internal communication have a high value, which must be preserved and protected. The business of these types of companies depends on their services, reliability and, above all, security.
- Public or mixed institutions. In this type of entity, personal data such as annual income, our medical history, or our legal cases, if any, are stored. This type of data is considered very sensitive and all security is insufficient to preserve the right to privacy.
- email clients. The already well-known Gmail, Outlook or GMX, process and host a quantity of data that is crucial for them to offer tools to guarantee their users greater security if they wish, since it is not usually mandatory to implement this type of verification in personal accounts.
In short, security is one of the factors that matters most to the user on the Internet and, in this regard, cybersecurity is a key industry in the development of any technological discipline.