Israeli mobile security start-up Accells Technologies was acquired this week by US cloud security firm Ping Identity — itself on Forbes’ 2013 list of Most Promising Companies. Terms of the deal were not announced. Described by Ping as “a pioneer in context-based mobile authentication,” Accells will continue developing in its office in Petah Tikvah, continuing to develop its mobile authentication system.
“Authentication in a mobile world is an incredibly complex problem that Ping Identity is taking on with full force,” said Andre Durand, CEO of Ping Identity. “Acquiring Accells speeds our efforts by adding to our industry pedigree an elegant user experience; secure, context-driven multi-factor authentication; and an expert team to expand our mobile capabilities quickly.”
Accells is very highly regarded in the security industry; established in 2009, the company won a bronze “Stevie” in 2013 in “Best New Software Service of the Year” category for companies with less than 100 employees (Stevie Awards, more properly known as the International Business Awards, are awarded by a committee of top US business people recognizing achievement in 70 areas, with companies chosen from among 3,300 nominees).
Actually, the security products developed by both companies have a striking similarity: Both aim to allow access to a wide array of services via the cloud, for enterprises within organizations — a specialty of Ping’s — and for “bring your own device” mobile smartphones and tablets that employees want to use to access services.
Both offer authentication systems that allow users to register their credentials with a central server, and use those credentials to access a wide range of services (Gmail, Salesforce.com, etc.). In Accells’ case, the authentication is also contextual, with the application that grants authentication access ensuring that users are initiating a service according to correct protocols, from expected geographical locations, at the right time of day, etc. Ping will gain access to several Accells patents for mobile authentication.
To showcase its technology, Accells last year set up an authentication web site, BringYourOwnID.com, which allows users to set up an authentication account that works with dozens of services (the site, still operating despite the buyout, is free for businesses with fewer than 20 employees).
“For the last two decades, authentication needs have been limited to access scenarios using username/passwords and VPN access scenarios using token/One-Time-Password (OTP)-based solutions designed 20 years ago for use in an offline world,” according to Accells. “At the same time, consumers (their customers) are holding their smart device aloft and taking control of their own IT services following the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend. The mobile-only paradigm requires a mobile-only authentication scheme. Authentication must move beyond passwords, be smarter than tokens and must protect more than access to services and infrastructure.”
“By integrating Accells technologies with Ping Identity we combine our deep domain knowledge, expertise and technology to provide the seamless and secure mobile authentication experience that’s necessary today,” said Accells CEO (and co-founder along with Chairman Eduardo Shoval and inventor of the technology Avish Jacob Weiner) Eckhard Ortwein. “Access to mobile applications and services will be easier and more secure as a result of the acquisition.”