Research has found that authentication costs can be halved if large companies switch to smart tokens.

A study by Encap analysed the average cost of the six most prevalent approaches to authentication for a large enterprise with 3,000 users over a three-year period. These include hardware approaches such as hardware one-time passwords (OTPs) and smart tokens (a USB or smartcard), as well as software such as smart device-based software, mobile OTP (usually an app), PC OTP (via a web-browser) and SMS OTP.

The annual total cost per user for a smart device software token is £9.65, while for a hard token it is £21.37. A mobile OTP soft token and PC OTP soft token have a cost per user of £15.41 in comparison; the cost of a smart card/USB token is 57 pence.

However the total deployment cost for a smart token is £115,655, compared with £81,150 for a soft token for mobile or a PC, while an SMS OTP costs only £52,396.

The research found that the deployment cost for hardware OTP is £129,380, while a smart device-based software token is £5,750, representing a 95 per cent decrease in cost. It also claimed that hardware OTP replacement costs are over 90 per cent more expensive than all software-based approaches.

Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen, CEO of Encap, said: “Having invested in remote access and cloud apps, enterprises must do everything possible to simplify speedy and secure access. Smart device software authentication turns smart devices – enterprise or employee-owned – into security credentials at an unbeatable price point.

“Our study shows that the time for hardware-based authentication has passed - it is just too expensive when compared with the alternatives. Hardware approaches are incompatible with today's world of smart devices, remote access and cloud apps. It's time for a change.”