About security tokens. How to access security keys remotely.

Olga Weis


  1. What is a security token for?
  2. How do security keys work?
  3. Access security tokens remotely
  4. Types of security tokens
security token

What is a security token for?

The security token is a small electronic device designed for secure two-factor authentication of users, generation and storage of encryption keys, electronic signature keys, digital certificates and other sensitive data.

Security tokens are used as intellectual key carriers and means of electronic signature in PKI systems, in systems of legally significant electronic document management and in other information systems based on electronic signature technologies. Security keys allow performing cryptographic operations in such a way that private information never leaves the device. Thus, the possibility of compromising the key is excluded and the overall security of the information system is increased.

How does a USB security key work?

As we already know, security tokens provide two-factor authentication in computer systems. In order for the authentication to be successful, at least two conditions need to be met: the user's knowledge of the PIN and the physical presence of the USB token. This provides a much higher level of security compared to traditional password authentication.

The USB security token consists of a microcontroller and built-in protected memory where user's data is securely stored. To unblock the functionality of a protected app, you just need to connect the security key to your computer so that the program can identify it.

Electronic identifiers of most modern USB tokens support the basic international standards in the field of information security. This makes it easy to integrate them into the existing information systems.

The challenge of remote access to USB tokens

Probably the most common problem you may face working with USB security keys is the inability to forward them to a virtual environment. By default, most virtual machines do not provide access to the functionality and contents of devices attached to the host machine. So, you’ll need to find the way to duplicate your device to share it between your guest and host OSes.

Certain difficulties may also appear if you try to provide access to the same USB token for multiple users over the network. If there’s token based authentication in your company and you need to share, let’s say, a bank token among several team members, you’re most likely to need a dedicated third-party tool to help you copy the device to remote computers.

Simple solution for security token sharing

USB Network Gate logo

USB Network Gate

Requirements: Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/2003/2008/ Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2012. 5.62MB free space. Version 8.0.1859. (4th Nov, 2017). 4.9 Rank based on 179+ users, Reviews(72)
Category: Networking Software
The easiest way to provide remote access to a security token is USB Network Gate - a handy software tool that works across any network and any distance.
USB Network Gate

Thanks to the unique port virtualization technology it deploys, the app can create a virtual copy of your USB device and redirect it over the TCP/IP network to any remote computer. USB Network Gate supports RuToken ECP, AvToken, AvPass, iKey 1000, Aladdin eToken and many other solutions.

Here’s how to easily access a remote USB token using USB Network Gate:

  • Step 1. Download the software and install it on the ‘Server’ computer (the machine, to which the token is physically attached) as well as on the ‘Client’ PC that needs to get remote access to the security token.
  • Step 2. Start the app on the Server, find the device in the software interface, and click ‘Share’ next to it.
  • Step 3. Launch USB Network Gate on the Client computer, find the token in the Remote devices tab and click “Connect”.

Once done, you’ll see the remote USB token in the Device Manager of your computer as if it were connected locally. And, most importantly, you don’t need to worry about the security of data transferred with USB Network Gate. The software uses the advanced traffic encryption, which reliably protects all user data transported over the network.

Types of security tokens

The main functionality of all security tokens is basically the same. Every token provides some kind of authentication code which allows users to access a particular service like an online bank account, etc. However, security keys may differ in the means they use for generating those authentication codes.

Static password tokens

The simplest type of security tokens is static password tokens which store the secret code inside the device and release it any time the user asks for it. It seems clear that you won’t get the high level of security with the keys of this sort.

Time-synchronized tokens

As their name indicates, time-synchronized tokens generate a password based on the time. The timer they contain is synchronized with another timer, working on the authentication server side. This allows changing passwords generated by the tokens at a set time interval, for example, every 3 minutes.

Asynchronous tokens

The mission of asynchronous tokens is to generate passwords that are unpredictable to guess, even if all the previously generated passwords are known. Those passwords change every time they are generated.

USB Network Gate

Requirements for Windows: XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10, Server 2012
Also available on macOS, Linux OS and Android , 5.62MB size
Version 8.0.1859 (4th Nov, 2017) Release notes
Category: Networking Software