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Craig, Leetaru receive third web tool patent

By Vince Dixon

NCSA research scientist Alan Craig and colleague Kalev Leetaru have received a third patent for high-powered web tools and methods. Craig is the associate director for human computer interaction for the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science and Leetaru is a center affiliate.

Their patent, “Method and System for Retrieving Information using an Authentication Web Page,” simplifies the process of accessing multiple secure web applications. Instead of managing and re-entering numerous and ever-changing passwords to log onto each application, “you simply browse to a single web page and that takes care of it all,” Craig said.

To the password holder, the process is simple. The first time the system is used, the user is given an email or link to a special authentication page. Behind the scenes, this page points the user’s web browser to an authentication server and establishes the user’s identity. The authentication information is then recorded so each time the user accesses a secured web application, the browser transparently connects to the authentication server, retrieves the latest access privileges for the user on that application, and grants appropriate access.

After that point, the user never takes further authentication-related actions after accessing the authentication page.

“The beauty of this thing is that all that happens magically and transparently to the person,” Leetaru said. “They just browse to this web page to start with and then everything happens from there.”

Craig and Leetaru have designed a collection of web tools to help everyday web users access advanced web tools without needing advanced know-how.

“The bottom line in the whole series of these patents was to not skimp on the power available to people, but make it to where they don’t have to know a whole lot of technical details to use them,” Craig said.

Information about the suite of tools is available from the University of Illinois Office of Technology Management.

Craig and Leetaru said they are excited about the acknowledgement a patent conveys.

“It’s always a great thing, because in some ways it’s an acknowledgement that you’ve done something new, creative and unique,” Craig said. “And that’s what our goal always is: to do things that are new, creative, unique, and that help people.”

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