Authentication Methods to Connect to Networks Securely
Network authentication methods assure users they are who they say they are while also helping reduce cyber attacks or infiltration by hackers into an organization’s systems.
Authentication methods range from providing essential protection to increasing security. Multifactor authentication (MFA), which entails “something you know, have, and are,” offers more robust protection. Common examples include passwords with a one-time code sent directly to a smartphone or facial recognition.
Single Sign-On SSO
Single Sign-On (SSO) allows users to gain access to multiple applications or websites using one set of credentials, making their experience seamless for the end user. While this might appear straightforward from a user perspective, much is happening behind the scenes to make it work seamlessly.
SSO relies on a central authentication server that trusts various identity providers, like Auth0, to authenticate users upon login, verify their identities, and issue tokens that websites and applications use to confirm user identity.
Knowledge-based authentication is using something the legitimate user should know, like passwords or answers to security questions, to authenticate. It can be combined with other forms of protection like two-factor authentication, PIN codes, or biometrics for extra layers of protection.
Once users log into their SSO provider, they can use those credentials across supporting applications or sites. This reduces the reliance on insecure methods like spreadsheets or sticky notes for storing passwords and can even decrease dependency on password managers.
SSO can also help improve password management practices. By decreasing the number of passwords users must manage, SSO can assist users in avoiding bad techniques like creating short, weak passwords or repeating them across multiple applications – thus helping decrease potential attacks against networks and protect more sensitive data more securely.
Invisible Multi-Factor Authentication MFA
Companies seeking maximum security with minimal user friction will benefit most from invisible MFA. Unlike traditional authentication mechanisms such as SMS one-time passwords, PINs, or authentication links, invisible MFA seamlessly collects risk signals for verification without requiring any action from the user during authentication – thus providing all the advantages associated with traditional MFA as well as advanced newer verification techniques like device recognition and contextual signals.
Passwordless multi-factor authentication leverages multiple technologies to verify a user’s identity, including various sensors in a device to capture micro-patterns in behavior, environment, and context at each moment. Machine learning then processes these patterns to unearth individual attributes like biometrics (physical and behavioral biometrics), geolocation data, and device recognition; combined with access control policies, this data provides an uninterrupted, frictionless login experience with maximum security.
Many consumer-facing applications need help gaining traction with multifactor authentication (MFA) due to users’ aversion to its cumbersome login process. Many users have expressed discontent with MFA despite recognizing its importance in preventing account takeovers. However, customers tend to be more accepting of MFA in banking, likely due to a clearer understanding of its security implications.
MFA introduces additional steps that can frustrate end users. These steps include finding a secondary device, downloading an authenticator app, or typing in verification codes. While these measures enhance security, they can also add time and complexity to the login process. Many consumers, except in banking contexts, find this cumbersome even if they understand the security benefits.
Two-Factor Authentication 2FA
Two-factor authentication (2FA) uses two methods to authenticate users and prevent unauthorized application access. 2FA is a crucial component of zero-trust security models, offering protection from many attacks, such as phishing, brute-force password attacks, and credential exploitation.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) requires users to authenticate using their username and password, typically on desktops, laptops, or mobile devices. Next comes the second-factor requirement, which typically takes the form of either a one-time passcode sent directly to their phone or a unique token generated by an app on their smartphone. Some solutions also provide additional verification methods, such as USB FIDO Security Keys by Yubico or biometric authentication that uses sensors built into users’ devices to authenticate.
Though requiring two forms of authentication can be cumbersome for users, it remains an essential step in safeguarding business applications and sensitive data against attackers. Even if hackers gain access to one type of authentication (like password or pin), they will still be unable to gain entry without the second type – usually passcode or token – preventing their malicious intent.
2FA is employed by entities ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to small startups, encompassing federal and state governments, organizations like the FBI and CIA, local police departments, and all levels of the military. 2FA provides users and system administrators peace of mind: even if their password is compromised, they remain protected by a second factor, often a unique code on a personal device. Some 2FA systems also use time factors to detect unusual access attempts.
Cyber attacks pose an existential threat to hybrid and remote workforces. Cybercriminals gain entry through compromised Wi-Fi or workstations with malware or by stealing passwords. Continuous authentication offers protection by tracking all aspects of user devices and behavior rather than just verifying a login attempt.
Continuous authentication typically combines physiological biometrics pattern recognition (such as facial or eye/fingerprint scanning) with behavioral patterns. These are verified by comparing current user data with an original baseline user profile and looking for inconsistencies or anomalies; for example, if Natalie typically signs in from Chicago but suddenly signs up from Sweden instead, the server will recognize this as an anomaly and implement additional authentication checks as a safeguard against fraud.
Other continuous authentication methods rely on behavioral analytics, such as measuring mouse cursor velocity or typing speed. This type of verification is especially beneficial to companies using online banking or applications with high levels of security.
Continuous authentication offers users a more secure method for accessing their accounts than traditional passwords, which are vulnerable to phishing attacks and can be stolen or compromised by hackers. Passwords can easily be guessable, while continuous authentication solutions analyze a person’s complete behavior to validate whether or not they are the real deal.
Continuous authentication methods also pose privacy risks since they require collecting personal user data and transmitting it to a remote server for analysis. This data could then be used for various purposes – such as identifying who owns a device or application – including tracking the actual users. Statistical techniques like k-anonymity, l-diversity, and t-closeness can be implemented in continuous authentication modes to mitigate privacy risks associated with constant authentication modes.
Passwordless authentication methods provide secure access to IT resources while maintaining an effortless user experience. While these techniques don’t replace passwords completely, they can reduce or eliminate the need for users to recall and reset passwords, manage reset flows, and meet cumbersome MFA requirements.
Authentication factors in this category can be ownership-based (something the user possesses) or inherence-based (something the user is). Examples of ownership-based authentication include hardware tokens, fobs, and smart cards. In contrast, inherence-based factors may consist of fingerprint scanning, retinal scans, or face recognition as powerful authentication techniques often referred to as biometrics or strong authentication.
Users can log in without remembering passwords or answering security questions when registering using an authentication factor. Some systems also provide a corresponding public key. Passwordless authentication can be used alongside additional measures like MFA for extra protection against security threats or as the primary means for accessing applications.
Many organizations are using passwordless authentication to strengthen digital security for employees and customers. When implementing these technologies, it’s vital for your business to consider their integration with existing systems and to ensure compliance with relevant regulatory obligations.
For effective implementation of passwordless authentication at your company, start with select applications and access points, then expand as your team adapts. This strategy reduces user frustration, encourages adoption, and simplifies integration for your IT team.