South African security vendor FireID has announced it will expand into the North American channel, shifting most client relations to new U.S. channel partners, and has secured a new Silicon Valley headquarters, a new channel program and a U.S. product debut.

FireID CEO Jenny Dugmore sat down with Channel Insider to discuss the solution, the channel opportunity and how FireID’s technology could render traditional security tokens obsolete.

Channel Insider: How does FireID’s solution work?
Dugmore: The FireID solution is software-based, and can turn any signal-less mobile phone into a universal authentication system by generating secure one-time-passwords instantly, completely offline.

Channel partners can install the software onto their servers and then deliver the solution to their customers. With just a couple clicks, it’s distributed to users’ mobile phones. It generates a one-time password, out-of-band, on your mobile phone that replaces traditional security tokens. It uses the same algorithms, but customers won’t have to carry both their phone and their security token.

You can secure anything from a Fortune 500 VPN to an end-user purchase using this. 

CI: Are there any specific OS or hardware requirements? How does this technology fit in with solution providers’ or customers’ legacy infrastructure?
Dugmore: All you need is a phone that can access the Internet and has the ability to run applications. The new channel program is part of our strategy to drive this into companies’ existing architectures. Our authentication server is OS-compliant, which means it can work with other existing systems that are in place. And it’s so easy to install; a couple clicks and it’s installed on your phone. What we’ve done is developed a build for each phone model – Nokia phones have their own build, for instance. And we’ve just developed a build for the iPhone, and the application can be bought through the App Store.

Solution providers can self-brand the solution, too, or can have customers’ brands show up on users’ phones.

CI: What are the benefits for channel partners? Why would customers want to consider this solution?
Dugmore: When we launched the product at the RSA Conference in April, we realized that the need for this ‘out-of-band,’ endpoint security solution was incredible. When this technology becomes pervasive, it’ll be much easier for solution providers to secure customers’ devices – all users have to do is carry their phone with them as they do anyway.

We’re trying to expand our reach globally, and we have solution providers in Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Kingdom, so now we’re trying to get into the U.S. market, too.

It’s compelling because of the ease of use for customers and the cost. We don’t charge for the application server; customers can deploy the solution on as many servers as they like, but we charge per annum, per user. Solution providers then get recurring revenue every year, which is a great model for them.

CI: The global economy is still in the midst of a downturn – why choose this point in time to launch a new product, a brand-new channel program?
Dugmore: We’re trying to get to a point where this technology is pervasive – end users want low cost, endpoint security for these devices that they can download easily and quickly.

Security is the one area customers can’t compromise on. Customers are saying to solution providers, ‘No, I don’t want to talk to you about software or hardware,’ but they’re very willing to talk to you about security.