MetaPass keys password management

USB lets users forget passwords, and admins forget about password resets

Ask any IT manager which request the help desk hears the most and you’ll get one answer: password resets. More people forget their passwords than lose the keys to their home or car. That’s where the MetaPass Digital Key comes in.

The MetaPass looks like USB Flash drive and holds up to 1,000 username and password combinations for either intranet or extranet applications. One master password unlocks access to all of the user’s stored account information, which is encrypted with the Blowfish 448-bit algorithm. To submit credentials to an application, the user simply inserts the key into a USB socket, runs the MetaPass Java application, enters the master password, and clicks an icon for the account he wants to log into.

Clicking the icon launches the application and enters the log-in data into the appropriate fields, completely automating the process. MetaPass is extremely easy to use, even for the novice user. Few will need the help files stored on the key, but those who do will find them detailed and straightforward.

MetaPass is easy to like, but it’s also a double-edged sword: The more I used the key, the more I needed it — because I began to forget all of my pesky account specifics. Commit to it and you won’t want to go back.

A more important shortcoming for enterprises has been the absence of a centralized utility to manage groups of MetaPass users, but that hole will be filled by the time you read this. Due to ship Sept. 1, the MetaPass Admin utility will allow administrators to store user account information for known corporate applications and copy that information to new keys — and to replace keys when originals are lost.

I really like the idea of the MetaPass, and so will users in many corporations that haven’t instituted a single sign-on solution. As long as you have the key, you have all of the access credentials you need, no matter where you are or what computer you’re using. And you can forget all of those annoying passwords.

MetaPass Digital Key


Cost: Single user pricing, $99 ($69 introductory special for September only);corporate pricing, $70 to $55 per user, depending on quantity


Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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