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RSA: Vint Cerf lays down unified authentication gauntlet

28 Feb 2013

One of the early architects of the internet is calling on the security community to develop an authentication platform for next-generation technologies.

Vint Cerf issued a challenge to attendees at the 2013 RSA conference to develop an improved authentication system which would provide public and private keys to help consumers authenticate their presence on multiple devices, platforms and services easily.

The IT icon suggested that as new devices gain internet connectivity and users access new services, a system to verify signatures would become essential. Cerf's plan would bring a single platform that would not only authenticate users but also allow them to verify purchases and assign their signatures on documents.

"There are all kinds of details we have to work out in order to make sure this can be trusted as much as physical signatures," Cert told the audience at his keynote address.

"We certainly don't want the digital environment to be any less trusted than the physical world is."

Cert admitted that the challenge was a daunting one. He said that he has no specific plan for how his theoretical platform would be constructed and could not offer and specific descriptions.

Rather, he said that the security community as a whole should consider the possibility of such a platform and begin development on the technologies which could someday make it a reality. Without such a system, he said, the security sector risks falling behind the advancements made in other parts of the IT space.

"As we introduce more computing power into these devices, someday the headline may be 'attack of the refrigerators," Cerf joked.

"There might be 100 or 200 devices associated with us, we don't want them to be interfered with."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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