Authentication specialist Cryptocard is offering UK businesses the chance to test the company's remote access login service free-of-charge until the end of the year.

Under the guise of a "password amnesty", companies signing up for the trial will be able to use the two-factor authentication Crypto-mas service on up to 200 mobile users, replacing less secure static passwords.

The catch? They must complete the trial by 31 December, and provide customer feedback on its use should they not want to continue using it. The service normally costs around £2 ($3.44) per user, per annum, depending on volume, but can be used with smartphones and PDAs as well as laptops.

Equally, some customers might jump at trialling a technology which still hasn't taken off for most networks, despite a decade or more of warnings about the insecure use of remote connectivity. But is ten weeks enough time to test a service that will mean a big culture change for most enterprises?

According to Cryptocard CEO, Neil Hollister, trial customers could begin assessing the service from day one thanks to a rapid set up that required no hardware.

"Because it's a managed service, all the client has to do is enter 4 bits of data in their VPN. We had [one client] up and running in under 24 hours," he said.

Each client downloaded a piece of software to the laptop in question, used to generate the one-time password token or, alternatively, received an SMS containing this on their registered phone. This was used to log in conjunction with a PIN number known only to the user.

"We take away the capital expenditure and tell companies that it's a utility service. The service takes away all the complexity and puts it in the cloud," said Hollister.

Crypto-mas could also cope with providing global coverage through international data centres, and a self-service portal for users to request new SMS tokens if the original had not been used in time for some reason.

Hollister suggested that small and medium businesses had never been comfortable with two-factor authentication systems prior to the advent of cloud services because of the cost, complexity and problem of hardware failure cutting off access to the network.

Companies can register for a free Crypto-mas trial on the Cryptocard website.