The smartphone advent disrupted online banking, retail shopping, and the way we socialize. Businesses have now ventured into e-commerce, and several retail experts believe the future of the industry significantly relies on AI as consumers will no longer visit physical stores. However, as the world continues to rely more on technology to handle day to day activities, the need for authentication evolution intensifies. Without proper authentication, the world will lose the confidence to develop and maintain relationships and conduct business. Authentication has moved from the ancient use of markings and jewelry to the introduction of complex technologies like sophisticated biometrics.
Username – Password Combination is Passe
Most e-commerce and financial companies use usernames and passwords as their first defense to protect their resources against unauthorized personnel. However, password development intended to serve as a slight deterrence to sensitive data access, not as the backbone of a reliable cybersecurity approach.
The password – username combo has various issues that compromise data and account security. Cybercriminals developed ways to bypass, crack, or trick people to give them their passwords. Additionally, since they are widely used, a person has to memorize passwords for an average of 92 accounts, which isn’t easy to remember. Hence, people opt to use one password on multiple platforms.
Although there have been attempts to make passwords more secure like the one-time passwords (OTPs) sent through SMS, these strategies are not foolproof. Cybercriminals can easily intercept the passwords since their transmission happens through unencrypted communication channels. Therefore, the weaknesses of this strategy validate the need for the adoption of more robust approaches.
The strategy identifies the user, computer, or smartphone’s physical location through a series of data collection mechanisms. You can use it to identify the user’s time zone, address, network and proxy information, country, and zip code. Geolocation’s data sources include Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), IP address, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Wi-Fi address.
Businesses can use geolocation to authenticate their customers; for example, banks can authorize a transaction by sending a push authentication or verifying the user’s location through their smartphones. The latter eliminates the customer’s need to respond to a notification hence creating a frictionless and transparent authentication process.
Biometrics refers to multiple technologies that can measure and scan body parts to identify the user. Although the technology has been around for many years, smartphone companies started using it on the devices a few years back. The common biometric traits used include the face, voice, fingerprint, signature, retina, palmprint, iris, gait, and hand geometry.
The smartphone industry made biometrics’ use universal, and more sectors have taken advantage of its benefits. Financial institutions use biometrics to verify the identity of end-users to improve the security of transactions. It is a straightforward process, non-invasive, and challenging to compromise, making it a valuable strategy.
Passwordless authentication refers to the verification of a user’s identity without using passwords. A user can easily access a platform using their phone by scanning a code using the phone’s camera hence eliminating the need for a password. Although many consumers have multiple devices, they often use the same gadget to carry out specific tasks.
Visionary companies are taking advantage of this growing trend to make their transactions more straightforward and safer. The approach lowers the risk of phishing, enhances the user’s experience, minimizes the total cost of ownership (TCO), and offers IT visibility and gains control.
Combining biometrics with Multi-Factor-Authentication
Instead of only relying on biometrics and passwords, three or more authentication levels, together with biometrics, offers additional security for businesses and consumers which biometrics or 2FA alone cannot provide. Combining the two allows enterprises to benefit from the advantages of the two strategies and counteract their drawbacks.
Multi-factor authentication develops multi-layered protection that renders unauthorized access to a database, physical location, network, or device challenging. A cybercriminal has the difficult task of bypassing many segments, and that is not only time-consuming and stressful but also increases their chances of getting caught. The standard authentication factors used to verify the user’s identity are knowledge, possession, and inheritance factors.
The evolution of authentication will continue as the need to protect user information, and other resources increase. However, all technologies have their flaws, so businesses have to stay vigilant, and embrace the latest technologies.
Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist. She regularly produces content for a variety of technology and business blogs.