Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon and then CEO of Web Services at Amazon.com Inc., speaks during the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in San Francisco, Calif., On Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
After Amazon CEO Andy Jassy attended a cybersecurity summit at the White House on Wednesday, Amazon Web Services’ cloud unit will offer some customers free USB keys to securely log into their accounts starting October.
The initiative shows the growing reliance of businesses on physical hardware aimed at preventing attempts to fraudulently access accounts. Such events can have financial consequences, such as the activation of ransomware attacks designed to extort money from companies.
Many major online services, including Airbnb and Netflix, rely on the AWS compute and data storage infrastructure provided by data centers distributed around the world, and if attackers gain access, the availability of these services could be compromised.
AWS wants to make such incidents less likely.
A White House factsheet released on Wednesday said Amazon has “announced that it will provide a multi-factor authentication device to all Amazon Web Services account holders at no additional cost.” But just because people have AWS accounts doesn’t mean they’ll all automatically get free keys, which typically cost $ 25 or more.
Customers can request the USB keys on the Amazon website from October, an Amazon spokesman told CNBC on Thursday. The keys will be available to root account holders for US-based customers who are spending more than $ 100 each month. However, individuals with individual Identity and Access Management or IAM accounts are not eligible. A single AWS account can have 1,000 or more IAM users.
In the case of AWS, an account holder can plug a key into a PC’s USB port and touch the key after entering an email address and password to open the AWS Management Console. AWS supports keys from Thales-owned Gemalto as well as privately owned SurePassID and Yubico keys.
Kevin Raineri, vice president of business development at SurePassID, said the company was not involved in the Amazon deal. He said he would suspect it was Yubico. The AWS spokesman declined to specify which companies will produce the keys and Yubico declined to comment. A Gemalto spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
People will be able to sign in to other online services using the keys issued by AWS, including Dropbox, Google’s Gmail, and Microsoft’s GitHub, Amazon said in a statement.
For years, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, as well as AWS, have allowed people to buy USB security keys and add them to accounts to verify their identities.
Cybersecurity also has a higher priority in US politics. Campaign workers relied on security keys during the 2020 presidential election, and in May President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring U.S. government agencies to enable multi-factor authentication.
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