Bell Labs eases authentication

Bell Labs, a division of Lucent Technologies Inc. in Murray Hill, N.J., yesterday announced the design of new software which it says may lead to better authentication systems.

The new security software is comprised of two programs, called Factotum and Secure Store. When a user tries to access a secure application or service, the two work together to prove that user’s identity. According to the company, this approach enables the user to be in control of his or her information as opposed to a third party.

Bell Labs says that while Secure Store acts as a repository for personal information, Factotum serves as an agent to handle authentication quickly and securely.

“This is technology that we have developed in our labs, that would enable single sign-on across multiple applications and services et cetera, without requiring one, central repository that is managed by a third party,” explained Adam Grossberg, a Bell Labs spokesperson.

He added that in order for Factotum and Secure Store to be used, they must first be ported, as they were designed to and currently run on Plan 9 – an open-source operating system. Potential users are able to port the offerings to other operating systems including Windows, Solaris and Unix, and then build an application around it.

“It is working live today. It is the way that all of our researchers within the computing sciences lab authenticate themselves with their applications and services,” Grossberg said.

The code is available for download from the company’s Web site at