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Amazon Adds Two-Factor Authentication to WorkSpaces

Amazon WorkSpaces customers can now add an extra layer of protection to their virtual desktops by enabling the two-factor authentication (2FA) feature introduced by the company on Monday.

Amazon WorkSpaces customers can now add an extra layer of protection to their virtual desktops by enabling the two-factor authentication (2FA) feature introduced by the company on Monday.

Launched in March, Amazon WorkSpaces is a cloud-based managed desktop service that can be utilized to create virtual desktops that allow end-users to access documents, applications and other resources from their laptops and tablets.

Organizations that want to make use of the multi-factor authentication feature, which is available for free, need an on-premises Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) server. Once enabled, WorkSpaces users will authenticate themselves with their Active Directory credentials, along with a one-time password (OTP) that can be supplied either by a software or hardware token.

The service works with 2FA solutions from any provider, as long as they support RADIUS authentication. Amazon has verified its implementation against the Symantec VIP and Microsoft Radius Server. For the time being, PAP, CHAP, MS-CHAP1, MS-CHAP2 protocols and RADIUS proxies are supported. 

On its AWS multi-factor authentication page, Amazon recommends the use of free smartphone applications or tamper-evident devices sold by Gemalto for generating the OPTs. The hardware solutions are not free, but they’re considered better than the smartphone apps.

“As a WorkSpaces administrator, you can configure this feature for your users by entering the connection information (IP addresses, shared secret, protocol, timeout, and retry count) for your RADIUS server fleet in the Directories section of the WorkSpaces console,” Jeff Bar, chief evangelist for Amazon Web Services, explained in a blog post. “You can provision multiple RADIUS servers to increase availability if you’d like. In this case you can enter the IP addresses of all of the servers or you can enter the same information for a load balancer in front of the fleet.”

While he hasn’t provided any details, Bar has revealed that the company plans on adding support for other authentication mechanisms, including smart cards and certificates.

 

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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