Users can now replace lost Windows passwords themselves without bothering the helpdesk, according to Danish software house FastPass. The company has developed Password Manager software that plugs into Microsoft's Active Directory, allowing users to challenge themselves and reset their own passwords.

"As many as one in five calls to enterprise IT helpdesks is about lost or forgotten passwords. It is a significant time and cost issue for corporate IT managers," said FastPass CTO Richard Blackham. "This is an entirely self-service interface, so is quicker than a helpdesk, as well as being strong enough to genuinely authenticate the user."

He said that self-authentication without helpdesk assistance can even comply with section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Users would challenge themselves either by answering questions they had already defined the answers to, such as mother's maiden name, etc, by using an Entrust IdentityGuard (a cipher card), or both.

Blackham said that the important factor is that the FastPass software plugs into Active Directory, rather than requiring a separate SQL Server database. "The directory is the centre-point of all Microsoft-related infrastructure and access management. Relying on Active Directory generates efficiency savings and is technologically superior to other options," he added.

FastPass said that its software also offers an alternative for users disappointed by Microsoft's decision not to add self-service facilities to its Identity Integration Server (MIIS). MIIS pushes identity changes made in one system out to others, and self-service was to have been the highlight of a new version, codenamed Gemini and due for release this year.

It now seems likely that, following Microsoft's decision to decouple self-service from Gemini, it will drop the feature altogether and replace it with third-party options. Blackham said that he expects Microsoft to issue a new roadmap for its identity and access products in about a month's time. Microsoft has already named FastPass as a strategy partner for user identity management.

Blackham added that, as well as Password Manager, which costs from 3 to 6 Euro per seat depending on scale, FastPass has a web-services product that propagates password changes to other systems, including non-Microsoft systems.