Digital Security: 5 Compatible and Alternative Methods to Passwords
Nowadays, passwords are a part of everyday life, and users use them to protect digital devices, data, and files from cyber attacks. But as everyone knows, passwords can create problems. For instance, safer and more complicated passwords are easy to forget, while simple and “easy-to-remember” passwords don’t provide the necessary protection against hackers. Moreover, phishing attacks are common on password-based authentication methods these days. Password security isn’t just a challenge for personal digital protection. It’s challenging for many small- and medium-sized (SMB) organizations to find alternatives to passwords in order to protect themselves against cyber attacks.
IT Security teams continuously look for new authentication strategies to prevent hackers from accessing networks, databases, files, and other resources. Finding alternatives to passwords can improve employee efficiency by eliminating the need to remember passwords or create new ones and provide greater confidence among customers with a more secure IT environment.
5 Compatible and Alternative Methods to Passwords for Cyber Security Protection
Regardless of whether you have a small start-up or an existing midsize business, protecting the corporate network from unauthorized users should be a concern for each employee and be built into the overall corporate culture. Employees can do their part, but they also need tools to prevent a human error that will inevitably occur. Here are five methods that can be used in conjunction with passwords, or used as alternatives, which can enhance cyber security techniques to provide better protection than using just traditional passwords.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, requires a user to use two different methods of verifying their identity. Usually, the first factor is a traditional password, and the second factor can be a smartphone, security token, fingerprint, facial scan, or several other options. This alternative method adds an additional layer of security when using a password. A typical example of two-factor authentication is when a company requires employees to log into the network with a password, then enter a security code received on their smartphone via a text message, phone call, or authentication app. This verification method ensures that the user is the one the system expects and not an unauthorized user.
This method is used in conjunction with a user password for a more secure password-based authentication method because without the second-factor authentication, access will be denied.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) takes two-factor authentication a step further. Whereas two-factor authentication requires two factors, MFA requires two or more factors.
There are three primary factors of authentication:
- Knowledge Factor – what you know (username, password, answers to security questions, PIN)
- Possession Factor – what you have (smartphone, security token, smart card, PKI certificate)
- Inherence Factor – who you are (fingerprint, retinal eye pattern, facial scan, voiceprint)
For businesses using MFA, the level of security is enhanced with identifying information such as a fingerprint or a personal smartphone that may require facial recognition to access. You may think that having two forms of authentication is enough, but not when cyber criminals keep evolving their technique to bypass corporate network security.
Implementing MFA for your organization is the best defense to protect your business against most password attacks, including phishing, credential stuffing, brute force, password spraying, and keyloggers.
Security techniques like biometric authentication are becoming more necessary for business accounts. This authentication method uses a person’s unique biological traits to access login, and is one of the factors for MFA. It’s typically used to replace a password.
Each biometric method uses a different human trait, including facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, retina recognition, and heartbeat recognition.
- Facial recognition matches different facial features with the approved face stored in a secured database.
- Fingerprint scanners are currently the most popular authentication technology by matching the unique patterns on an individual’s fingerprint. This technology used to be too costly, but with improved technology and high demand, organizations can now integrate it into their security processes.
- Voice biometrics analyzes a speaker’s voice patterns to form specific shapes and sound qualities. The security devices rely on keywords to recognize users.
- Retina recognition includes iris and retina scanner technologies. It relies on projecting a bright light directed toward the eye to scan for unique patterns. It’s used commonly within government agencies, military bases, national borders, and airports.
- Heartbeat recognition picks up the distinctive waveforms generated by each individual’s heartbeat rhythm and can be used as an identifying signature.
Single Sign-On Authentication
Single sign-on authentication solutions (SSO) are a new trend for securing organization IT environments and are rapidly replacing the traditional password process. An SSO system provides advantages to both users and web page administrators. It allows users to access multiple applications by logging in with a single set of credentials to access various applications. SMBs can manage their own single sign-on process through an IAM system and then connect its links across different domains. SSO authentication might not work for all organizations, but if your company uses multiple applications or websites, it’s an excellent secure option for administrative management, simplifying user access and improving employee login efficiency.
This type of authentication can be used as part of two-factor authentication or a multi-factor authentication method. When used with a password, token-based authentication creates a more complex defensive barrier that protects network access. Each time a user tries to log in, a digital token id is sent to a unique device, such as a key fob or a smartphone. This ID is then entered on a website to verify a user’s identity.
Keeping your organization secure means safely managing authorized user access—ensuring that only the right people are accessing corporate applications, tools, and websites. Using MFA, an SSO system, or biometric authentication to access the corporate network and applications is becoming a necessity to make sure your organization’s IT environment is protected against cyber attacks. When used in conjunction with the traditional password system, these alternatives make it exceedingly more difficult for cyber criminals to breach your network. If your organization is still using password protection as a standalone safety mechanism, it’s time to contact your managed services provider and welcome a more secure login system.
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