Stronger security is always necessary, and sometimes the classic password is not enough. But fear not, other methods will help you a lot.
Access to a company’s devices and user accounts should ideally involve the highest possible security level, at least stronger security than access to a public forum on the web requires. Strong and randomly long passwords encrypted with the most up-to-date and efficient procedures of the moment. But you should not only rely on passwords, no matter how strong they are, because a single authentication factor is a tempting fate. The optimum would be to add several authentication layers to increase security through more factors.
Let’s see what this is all about.
What is authentication?
As you may already know, authentication is the act of giving credence or certainty to an assertion. Authentication proves that something is true, most commonly the identity of something or someone. As far as we are concerned, it is to prove that we are who we say we are to a given computer system since authentication is the verification process that follows identification.
Of course, authentication goes beyond IT and is used at all levels of society. Identity documents confirm this, which prove to the relevant entities that we are who we say we are. But in this case, we are referring specifically to electronic authentication.
Electronic authentication is the procedure of establishing confidence in the user identities indicated to an information system. This step is essential after the identification step itself. It is the step that prevents unauthorized access to the system and avoids online identity theft since it verifies whether the person is who he/she claims to be. Therefore, they guarantee stronger security.
Authentication mechanisms work by requiring the user of a device or program to present one, two, or more pieces of evidence that give credence to the identity claimed. Once you provide the proof satisfactorily, you are granted access to the system.
Authentication evidence can be of various types. In the IT world, they are generally known as factors. Passwords, for example, are one of them and fall under the classification of knowledge factors, as you will see below.
Types of authentication factors for stronger security
Authentication factors are classified according to the type of evidence presented by the user attempting to access the system, which can be:
- Factors that are something the user knows.
- Are something the user possesses.
- Factors that are something the user is.
- Factors that are a place where the user is.
Let’s take a closer look at this classification.
Knowledge factors are the most widespread form of authentication. This form requires the user to show secret knowledge to achieve authentication.
This type of factor implies that the user has something that authenticates his identity and accesses the system. Humanity has used this factor for a considerable part of its history, as evidenced by the key’s historical possession to open a lock. In this case, the user possesses a “key”, physical or otherwise, that opens the “lock” that protects the system’s access.
These factors involve something associated with the user, precisely some physical characteristic.
This type of factor involves the physical location of the user, allowing access to the system only if you are located in a specific place, such as, for example, the office.
There are many electronic authentication methods, each belonging to one of the types presented above. Let us show you the most commonly used ones:
A token is a peripheral device with which the claimant proves his identity to a restricted electronic network, gaining access in the process. They are electronic keys.
Tokens can be physical or software hosted on a device, such as a computer or a cell phone. The most common example of tokens is USB devices containing authentication information connected to the computer to verify your identity.
Pin-based authentication and passwords
This is the knowledge authentication method par excellence. They are a secret combination of characters or numbers used to prove the user’s identity. There are also passphrases, sequences of words used for the same purpose. Of a similar nature are security or secret questions. The most common ones, such as “Where were you born?” are not the most reliable, as they are information that can be easily discovered with dedicated research.
In recent times, the vast majority of cyber attacks are directed at password-based authentication systems, so they are at greater risk than the rest.
Stronger security: Biometric authentication
It is the use of the user’s inherent physical characteristics for identity authentication. This method includes facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, and iris scanning. New technologies provide other biometric authentication methods, including behavioral characteristics, using, for example, the user’s typing speed or rhythm as a method of authentication.
It is currently considered the most secure authentication method, as these characteristics are unique to each individual.
Through an SMS, email, or similar, the user receives a specific password that authenticates his or her identity when entered into the system. It is not the most secure authentication method as text messages can be intercepted.
The key to strong authentication and stronger security
You can see then that authentication goes beyond passwords, that there are multiple ways to protect access to your company’s devices and networks. And all of these authentication methods are there to provide stronger security. Still, it is not enough to use single-factor authentication mechanisms alone, especially if that factor only involves passwords.
The key to strong e-authentication is not just implementing single-factor authentication. Single-factor authentication is the weakest type of authentication and therefore does not offer much protection. You must combine at least two factors or more, using multi-factor authentication or MFA.
The chances of gaining unauthorized access to company devices or servers are reduced to almost zero when the system requires the agent have to connect a token, enter a password, and pass facial recognition to gain access. MFA will guarantee you stronger security for sure.