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PayPal launches security key

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Sunday June 17, 2007 )

In an effort to further security for its users, PayPal and eBay have introduced a security key – a physical product that generates a 6 digit number every 30 seconds and is entered along with usual access details when logging into accounts that have the feature enabled.

This two factor authentication method is part of the VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Network initiative and the key can also be used on other sites displaying the following logo.

Verisign Identity Protection Network Logo

The device can be slipped onto your keyring. Here’s what the key generator looks like:

PayPal security key device

Once a number combination has been used when logging in, it cannot be used again; a new number set needs to be entered for each login.

To obtain a key requires a one-time payment of $5.00 (free for business account holders) and can be ordered through the PayPal user interface. It’s currently available in for users in the U.S., Australia and Germany with other countries to follow soon.

The extra layer of security is a good idea and I’ve ordered one, but my biggest concern was what would happen if I lose or break it, or it malfunctions. According to PayPal, You can still log in to your PayPal account under these circumstances, but you’ll just need to jump through a few added hoops during the login process which includes extra security questions and PayPal automatically calling one of the registered numbers in your profile to verify identity.

I also envisioned the future and possibly having a dozen of these contraptions hanging off my keyring, but seeing that Verisign appears to have a head start and is a very well known brand; I think they’ll easily corner this market and be the provider of choice for other services wanting to incorporate two factor authentication.

Read the PayPal press release or view the security key demo.

Learn more about the Verisign Identification Protection initiative.


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