Tech topics

What is Mobile Authentication?

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Mobile authentication and access

Nowadays people conduct their business and do their shopping from just about anywhere, in the office or on-the-go. And frequently they do so on their phone or from some other personal mobile device. This is not only true for your customers, but more and more your employees as well who work when they can in the way they want. The upside is that your employees are more responsive, and work tends to stretch across the day as professionals are able to blend their work-life to do a quick task. More imperative is the need for you to interact with your customers wherever they are in this same fashion, accessing multiple services as a single experience while managing risk.

If it’s not easy, it’s not going to work

Today’s mobile devices are more powerful than ever and can perform many tasks traditionally done on a laptop. But just because users can do something doesn’t mean they’ll want to. If accessing a mobile application is a hassle, your BYOD users won’t bother or for customers they’ll go someplace else.

Because mobile devices still have limited screen real estate, difficult or repeated authentications are deal killers for on-the-go access. In fact, mobile users are often standing while they work. What may be effortless on a laptop can be much harder on a tablet or smartphone. You need apps that are effortless for your users (customers/employees) but keep your internal information protected and secure.

Doing mobile access right is hard

If you have mobile dev teams whose apps need to deliver private or protected information to your customers-citizens, life can get complicated in a hurry. Without the right mobile identity tools, you’ll have to manage and protect credentials to the system form which the data is being retrieved. If these apps need to bring information together that is fragmented across multiple platforms, you have that same problem times X.

These table stakes of mobile access aren’t trivial, they’re complicated and in reality, risky. Your mobile app developers typically aren’t security experts; rather, they’re proficient at UI and small form factor usability. They’re expert on the platform’s (Android, iOS) capabilities, services, and API’s but security and especially secure access to backend systems is often a complicated hairball that is often the culprit of delayed or prolonged projects. The key point is that if you were to take step back and look at the authentication and access problems that need to be solved, it becomes obvious that they are same matrix of access management problems that were solved years ago for laptop users.

OpenText™ NetIQ™ Access Manager lets you leverage your past identity and access management investment for your mobile development projects. By integrating your mobile apps with identity infrastructure your developers are able to securely control who gains access to backend systems. By using access management to invoke single sign on your developers are able to take advantage of its credential lifecycle management to keep them secure as well as support forgotten passwords or lost tokens, as well as enforce multi-factor or risk-based authentication.

Securing mobile access with Access Manager

Organizations wanting to secure access from their mobile users have three options: SDK for native mobile apps, OpenID Connect, and Access Manager’s own MobileAccess App. Your choice as to which option works best for you depends your approach:

Native SDK

Development teams focused on leveraging specific aspects of the platform may prefer native SDKs. Access Manager offers an Objective-C API for iOS that can be dropped in with no source coding needed. Using this approach sensitive data such as access, refresh tokens are securely stored in device Keychain. The SDK also provides a test app to verify that everything is working.

OAuth and OpenID Connect

For organizations taking a cross platform approach to their mobile development, they will likely use OAuth or OpenID Connect to perform a federated authentication. Access Manager is able to receive and process those and authorize OAuth tokens as well as all the other processes needs to be a server. It also supports OpenID Connect endpoints, making it an exception choice for those building on their current identity and access management infrastructure.

MobileAccess app

NetIQ offers the MobileAccess App for both iOS and Android. The app is a secure location from which users can access AppMarks or shortcuts to you web based applications. MobileAccess is valuable because it not only secures access to protected applications, it offers a mini portal full of one touch icons delivering quick and easy access to mobile users as long as they have connectivity. In the background Access Manager invokes the same level of access control and single sign on as it does for any other application. AppMarks are especially well suited for dynamic web-based applications that adjust to the form factor being used.

Above all AppMarks are fast to setup, typically less than a few hours. Users have self-service credential and device management making MobleAccess a smart choice for organizations that have a large number of applications that they want pushed out to their mobile users. It also serves as an interim solution for organization that have mobile app projects scheduled but who need to provide mobile access now. And because AppMarks are automatically included in any single sign-on and access control policies that have been setup, the total cost of ownership is unbeatable. The MobileAccess App is free to users.

Mobile access starts and ends with identity

Access Manager provides three different ways to deliver secure single sign-on and access control to mobile users, and all of them enjoy same credential and access life cycle management needed in today’s complex environments for applications and service running inside the intranet or out in the cloud.