Banks have struggled to improve online authentication for employees and customers in recent years as cybercriminals have become more adept at cracking usernames and passwords. As a result, a series of products and vendor services have popped up, many of which involve biometric and multi-factor authentication.

For example, Canadian technology vendor SecureKey recently announced that it's integrating its software with MasterCard's MasterPass virtual wallet. The technology assures that the PC on the other end of an online order form belongs to the person whose credit card is being charged.

And the FIDO Alliance of financial services and computing players (including PayPal and Lenovo) has developed a standard for authentication around which it hopes technology providers will coalesce.

In a fresh example, EMC Corp. announced Monday that it purchased identity and access management company Aveksa.

The Hopkinton, Mass. outfit says the acquisition will add a layer of security to its enterprise software and cloud computing management offerings. EMC specializes in data storage and information security.

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

"Today's enterprises face significant challenges around identity and access management," says EMC's executive vice president Art Coviello, in a press release. "The adoption of cloud-based IT infrastructures and the pervasive use of mobile means that security organizations are being asked to secure and provide access to assets they don't own, manage, or control." Coviello is also RSA's executive chairman.

He adds that EMC's customers need to know who should and shouldn't have access to specific information on a network in order to hedge against data breaches and regulatory compliance issues.