Innovation with SMS – How “TextKey” from TextPower is Revolutionizing Authentication

We cover SMS in regards to mobile marketing every day here on MMW, but every now and then we come across an innovative new use case that deserves a mention.  Case in point is a new technology developed by SMS solutions provider TextPower that uses SMS to revolutionize the way website users authenticate themselves using their mobile devices.

Dubbed “TextKey,” the new patent-pending technology uses a cell phone’s unique identifier — it’s “fingerprint” so-to-speak — to authenticate web users through a simple text message.  The solution replaces the need for security fobs, tokens, USB keys and smart cards by using the cell phone that everyone already carries.  The idea is that every cell phone in the world has a unique device identifier, making it the equivalent of a fingerprint when sending a message.

The entire system is cloud-based and doesn’t require any additional servers, appliances, outsourcing, software or remote hosting.  As a result, any enterprise interested in protecting its web site from hackers, thieves or discontented employees can now provide more secure authentication than even the largest companies that use complex and expensive security key fob systems — and at a fraction of the expense.  So how does it work exactly?

The technology displays a one-time authentication code in clear view on a web page after a user has successfully entered their username and password.  The code must then be sent from that user’s cell phone because it has the only “fingerprint” that will allow it to gain access to the site.  Unless the correct code is sent from that specific cell phone, entry to the website is blocked.  Cloned cell phones or spoofing techniques will not fool the system either, according to the company.  In addition, if the code is sent from an unauthorized phone, TextKey captures the phone number, which can then be used to pursue and prosecute the intruder.  You can demo how it works using your own cell phone here.

TextKey was recently named “Best Authentication Solution” by Info Security Products Guide in March and was a 2011 winner of a GSN Homeland Security Award as well.  We love seeing new, innovative uses for SMS and this is an excellent example.  Know of any other cool use cases for SMS outside the realm of marketing?  We’d love to know about it.  Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line.