By Marcus Leach

Northumbrian Water Limited (NWL) is using a revolutionary approach to the age-old problem of providing secure access to corporate systems without the need for tokens or smartcards.

After reviewing the marketplace, NWL has selected SecurAccess, to provide tokenless two factor authentication for its remote workforce and contractors. This industry standard solution from SecurEnvoy - the global leader of two-factor authentication, will replace its original hardware token system, offering the utility increased flexibility while reducing costs.

NWL joins the ranks of other large utility companies who have also deployed tokenless two factor authentication from SecurEnvoy including Scottish Water, OFGEM and Fairfield Energy — all of whom have found using SMS technology for two factor authentication a cost-efficient and user friendly alternative to traditional two factor authentication solutions.

As you’d expect with a utility organisation, NWL has a diverse workforce some of whom work away from the office, teams who work in the field, — operational managers, communications and marketing teams, IT employees and project managers, based both in the south east and the north east of England.

In addition, it also uses the services from a number of third parties including consultants and contractors. For these remote workers it is paramount that they have secure, timely access to the corporate network. By utilising SMS technology, SecurAccess turns any mobile phone into an authentication token removing the need for physical tokens thus reducing their impact on the environment — both in terms of production and deployment.

“As part of our remote access program we were looking for a replacement to our previous token system," Anthony Smith, IS Security Co-Coordinator at NWL, explained.

"We wanted something that could offer flexibility, a reduction in costs and introduce efficiencies —while continuing to maintain a high level of security. With SecurEnvoy we found it. Tokenless two-factor authentication means we can switch on users in seconds rather than relying on postal systems to deliver physical tokens, often arriving days later.

"A further inconvenience was trying to get tokens returned by contractors when projects ended. Each one costs money so it gets expensive if they’re just written off. We felt it was time for a change. That the majority of our users prefer the SMS tokens is an added bonus making the whole program effortless.”

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