Danish authenticator vendor SMS PASSCODE expands in North America

The Danish multi-factor authentication vendor, which sells only through the channel, expanded into the U.S. last year, and is eyeing Canada for this year.

Fotograf Torben Klint40 32 35 36torben@klintfoto.dkwww.klintfoto.dk

Henrik Jeberg, managing director for SMS PASSCODE

Denmark-based IT vendors have not had a significant impact on the North American market since Navision was digested by Microsoft in 2002. Now, however, a well-established Danish multi-factor authentication vendor, SMS Passcode, has entered the U.S. market and is eyeing Canada as well. The company sells here entirely through the channel, and have signed up their first ten American partners, joining approximately 600 SMS PASSCODE partners in 40 different countries.

The company began in 2005, having originally been created as part of a Danish telco that wanted its remote workers to be able to connect in a secure fashion without having to carry around tokens. The initiative was a success, and so it was spun off into a separate company.

“We do all kinds of authentication, not just SMS, but it is our prime delivery vehicle,” said Henrik Jeberg, managing director for SMS PASSCODE. They are a self-funded company with about 2000 customers globally.

“Last year, we decided it was time to get our feet wet in the U.S., and so on April 1 we opened a U.S. office [in San Francisco]. We are not a household name here yet, although we have been in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for years.”

While there are approximately 20 vendors in this space, SMS PASSCODE has an advantage over many in that their products require no installation on the client side.

“That’s the main difference with some other products,” Jeberg said. “That’s especially important for larger companies because it means no pushing out new tokens. When you figure out how much time the average help desk person spends on this, it is scary. This helps us against big vendors like RSA and SecureNet.”

SMS PASSCODE uses contextual information such as login behavior patterns and geo-location to assess the threat level and automatically adjust the level of user authentication needed.

“Many breaches are because the ways companies allow people to log in are insecure.” Jeberg said. “Many companies that have sophisticated IT have basically just a password, and don’t have multifactor authentication. We have seen this even at government level, police forces and intelligence services in Europe, where you would think they have this, but they don’t.”

While SMS PASSCODE solutions are designed for enterprise requirements, their simplicity also makes them suitable for SMBs – and that is in fact where most of their American partners are selling them.

“While the big breaches make the news, smaller companies are hacked in the same way, and partners serving SMBs say customers are asking questions about this,” Jeberg said, “They are their customers’ only provider and need to have an answer. We are well suited to SMBs because the product is easy to install and there is no maintenance.”

SMS PASSCODE has seen some significant customer wins in banking, education, university, heath care and utilities in the U.S.

“We don’t have a presence yet in U.S. government institutions, but are working on one now, and if we win that, it will be a flagship for us,” Jeberg noted.

The company doesn’t sell direct, but while they use distribution elsewhere, in the U.S. market, they decided to go directly to the partners. Jeberg indicated that many are Citrix and Microsoft partners who know their way around Active Directory.

He also indicated they hope to acquire some Canadian partners this year.

“We are looking to Canada for 2015 because we have Canadian customers,” he said. “It’s not a question of if, but more of when to get the Canadian market up.”