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PhoneFactor: A Potential Answer to Accessible Two-Factor Authentication

August 19, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Once again, we learn that authentication based on sight alone is not the only game in town. A company called PhoneFactor delivers a two-factor authentication scheme in which the second piece of authentication material is literally your telephone. In simple terms, here’s how it works:

  1. Supply your traditional username and password as prompted.
  2. Your telephone rings.
  3. Press the pound sign!
  4. That’s all there is to it!

The potential of this solution to deliver security while ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities simply can’t be ignored!

6 opinions on “PhoneFactor: A Potential Answer to Accessible Two-Factor Authentication

  1. Do you happen to know if this solution is American-only or if it applies to Canadian and other international people as well? For me personally it would be the ideal solution.

  2. This is an interesting offering, and is similar to services out htere allowing you to pay for merchandise – usually at grocery stores – by providing your phone number and the store calls your phone to verify it.

    As far as the Web has come, captchas and other visual only methods will set it back. However any method that helps those visually impaired will also help those who may not have their glasses with them or using an alternate device like a mobile phone as well.


  3. Hello, this sounds like a wonderful idea on the surface–but one need always be concerned with identity theft–especially in terms of online purchases. Speaking as someone who worked in the telecomunications industry for many years, one of the major arguements received by our company was “I can’t be charged for that, my phone was lost!” Therefore, the visually impaired community will most likely face an arguement from whomever decides on these issues that really, how does simply pressing the # key on a phone when it rings verify someone’s identity.

    I personally am more in favor of some sort of a finger print verification system for visually impaired users. Once a user is registered, all they need do is press their finger to a reader whenever identity need be verified.

    Just my thoughts, thanks for reading.

    Randy George

  4. The fingerprint idea has some strong points. My personal objection would be that it would then be necessary for me to incur a charge, i.e. for the equipment. I don’t think I should have to pay for someone else’s security measures. And if the blind are paying for something sighted people get at no charge, the playing field isn’t level. And if the company in question purchases such a device for each and every potential customer, highly unlikely, one still has to wait for the unit to arrive, and we have again lost the immediacy that sighted people take for granted. I’m still looking for that perfect solution. I’m not yet seeing it anywhere, but it’s exciting to see that some steps are being taken in that direction.

  5. As for Bruce’s comment which I agree describes the ideal, I believe we may have to strike a ballence in some cases. If there would be a solution that would involve a cost which is not prohibitive but none the less a cost, would it be wise in that situation to reject that solution and be locked out completely? It is already a fact that we pay more for our equipment that sited people don’t have to buy at all because they don’t need such provisions. I understand that what you are saying is the ideal solution would not have us paying extra for anything and paying for someone else’s security, I am only making the point as well that I think we need to ballence that with the best technology solution as well. An equal playing field is worth persuing and fighting for, but equal participation whatever it may require within reasonable constraints is more important in my opinion.

  6. Hi all,

    I’m not blind myself, but I’m doing some research about internet security for blind people. I know that the company Vasco has some solutions for blind people, with tokens that speak and tell you your one time password through through headphones. I read a story on their website about an employer who used some of these tokens, together with the visual ones, for his blind employees.

    For some this might be a solutions, but I understand that this solution depends on the goodwill of the employer.

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