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November 19, 2013

Toopher Offers TACC ‘Invisible’ Authentication

Tiffany Trader
Toopher logo

This week the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin announced a partnership with Toopher, the company behind the multifactor authentication solution of the same name. TACC revealed that starting in December it will begin pilot testing on Toopher’s smart phone-based multi-factor authentication technology to provide secure access within TACC’s supercomputing environment.

Toopher is a new kind of user authentication system that is designed to be hassle-free compared to other multi-factor authentication schemes. Like keyfobs and bio-solutions, Toopher adds another layer of security to passwords, but Toopher’s is completely invisible to the user. While most two-factor authentication methods use a code in addition to a password to enable people to prove their identify, Toopher relies on a user’s location, which is provided by their smart phone. When a user tries to access a system from a non-verified location, they will be denied access.

“Operating powerful computing systems with national and International profile for thousands of researchers across the globe exposes us to some risks, even though the purpose of these open science systems is entirely for the public good,” said TACC Director Jay Boisseau. “To ensure that our researchers are able to be fully productive, we need to maximize security and uptime, while not imposing barriers to using the systems. By leveraging smartphones and GPS, Toopher is developing the most exciting technology I’ve seen for increasing security without getting in the user’s way.”

During SC13, the annual supercomputing event that kicked off today in Denver, Lance Kelly, Toopher’s director of Business Development, will be demonstrating the “invisible” authentication technology in the TACC booth on Wednesday, November 20.

The collaboration between TACC and Toopher is fitting since the security company was started in by Evan Grim, a University of Texas PhD candidate in software engineering, and Josh Alexander, an adjunct professor teaching financial derivatives at UT McCombs School of Business. Since its founding in 2011, Toopher has enjoyed a steady path to commercialization, aided by its involvement as a portfolio company of the Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin. The software now supports more than eight million users in such spaces as financial services, general enterprise, cloud services, and now supercomputing.