Password security has grown to become a rising concern. Finding a secure password authentication method has become crucial as password breaches grow. But the most critical question is, is password-based authentication safe to use?
Passwords are difficult to manage and result in data breaches. Verizon reports that 81% of the data breaches occur because of weak, stolen, or misused passwords. Moreover, if your business uses passwords to protect the user database and internal accounts, you are at significant risk.
Password-based authentication is a process of authenticating users. This article looks at the various password-based authentication methods and whether they are safe. It will also share the best practices for maintaining password security, so keep reading.
- Five Common Methods of Password-Based Authentication
- Password-Based Authentication unsafe?-Is passwordless a solution?
- Best Practices For Password Security
- Final Thoughts
Five Common Methods of Password-Based Authentication
Several password-based authentication methods have come up with time. Each of the adopted methods promises privacy and security through various means. Below is an insight into the most common password authentication methods: how they work and are they safe to use?
Captcha is a method that prevents automated programs from breaking into the secure system. The CAPTCHA system displays distorted/overlapping images with letters, numbers, and pictures. The bots find it hard to detect the distortions, so you can’t access the network.
Though this method sounds secure, it comes with significant cons. The hackers are now using CAPTCHA into fake websites to make their scams more believable. CAPTCHA tests cause delays, and bots can bypass verification.
2. Biometric Authentication
Biometric authentication is a popular method for securing computers and storing data. Private corporations and governments often use this method for identification and security purposes. Fingerprint identification, voice recognition, face iris, and retinal scanning are common biometric authentication methods.
There are some privacy concerns about the biometric authentication method. It collects users’ personal data without consent. Individual user information is also the primary target of hackers. In November 2020, more than 80,000 ID cards and fingerprint scans were exposed in a cloud leak. The attackers make off fingerprints of the users and leave them vulnerable to identity theft.
3. Token-Based Authentication
A Token is a digitally encoded signature used to authenticate users to access specific resources. It allows users to verify their unique identity and receive a token that gives them access to particular resources for a specific time. It generates code in the form of a one-time-password (OTP). You can use it once for every transaction.
But unfortunately, In 2016, NIST announced that it’s not a secure method to use for various reasons. Like, the OTP SMS is the source of launching phishing and other social engineering attacks. Also, it requires frequent reauthorization that can make you annoyed. Moreover, businesses need to look for professional help to deploy this system. Besides this, the size of the token system is more than a regular session token. It makes it longer whenever you add more data to it and the loading speed, resulting in a bad user experience.
4. Computer Recognition Authentication
Computer recognition authenticates a user by checking if they are using a particular device or not. In this method, you install a small software plug-in on the users’ device after the first successful login. The plug-in contains a cryptographic device marker. When the user logs in the next time, it checks the marker.
But, the most significant drawback of this authentication method is that it fails to manage the users when they switch devices. Moreover, this method is quiet unpopular among users.
5. Multi-Factor Authentication
The multi-factor authentication method is also among the popular authentication methods. It needs two or more ways to authenticate users’ identities. It adds an extra layer of security to the password and prevents unauthorized access. You can use the Captcha test, fingerprints, facial recognition, or codes as the secondary authentication method. Even if your passwords get compromised, the hackers can’t access your account. It’s because they cannot complete the secondary requirement.
Using MFA is a good way to prevent hackers, but they also have drawbacks. People might lose their phones and SIM cards and hence can’t generate authentication codes. Also, if a cybercriminal steals or spoofs a phone, it can negate any effect of the MFA process.
Password-Based Authentication unsafe?-Is passwordless a solution?
In recent times, password-based authentication has become a popular approach to authenticating users. However, the security issues concerned about each method make them somewhat unreliable and unsafe to use. Some of the reasons that signify that using password-based authentication systems has become an outdated norm:
- The security of your accounts depends on the strength of your chosen passwords. With technological advancement, hackers use advanced tools and tactics to steal your passwords.
- This system lacks a strong identity check. Anyone can unlock the system/apps using a password, making it easy for the threat actors to access your accounts.
- Hackers can launch brute force attacks to steal your data or spread malware or other malicious software.
- Users either use the same password on multiple accounts or write it down on paper to decrease the memory burden. This gives rise to the potential risk of password breaches.
Hence, for all these reasons, organizations now opt for passwordless authentication. It is a process in which you don’t need passwords to verify your identity. Switching to passwordless authentication methods is the only way to improve user experience and cybersecurity.
Passwordless authentication is a cost-effective method and ensures a stronger cybersecurity culture. It eliminates risky password creation and management practices. Moreover, it reduces the attack vector like phishing and credential stuffing attacks. It also simplifies IT operations as there’s no need to reset, secure, or manage passwords.
The most significant advantage of passwordless authentication is that it improves user experience. The employees don’t have to remember different complex passwords eliminating the need to reuse them. There are various ways by which you can deploy passwordless authentication such as push notifications, magnet links, or using one-time passwords.
Best Practices For Password Security
Passwords are the key to online activities. Creating a hard-to-crack password can be challenging. There are some ways to make your passwords more secure. Below are some best practices for password security, so consider following them:
- Create strong passwords: Remember to practice strong password use. Ensure that your password meets the NIST standards and avoid sharing it with others.
- Use password managers: Start using the best password managers if you find creating and remembering strong passwords challenging.
- Avoid reuse: Reusing the same passwords on various accounts results in more password compromise incidents. Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts were hacked as he used the same passwords. Hence avoid doing so.
- Change passwords regularly: Change your passwords timely, and don’t use your personal info like name, address, and date of birth as your passwords.
- Don’t use dictionary words: Hackers use programs that can search dictionary words. Ensure you avoid using such words and protect your business from becoming a victim.
- Don’t store passwords: Avoid writing passwords on paper or digitally, as hackers can steal them for malicious motives.
- Deploy password encryption: Consider using end-to-end encryption as it’s non-reversible and impossible to break and provides extra protection for passwords.
Besides this, business organizations should work on creating password management policies to prevent breaches in the future until they become passwordless.
Maintaining password security has become the need of the hour. Though various password-authentication methods are available, they are not reliable to use. Each method has its cons, making it hard for businesses to trust them. But, they can somehow reduce the risks and improve your password security by practicing password security practices. Moreover, companies can become passwordless to improve the cybersecurity culture.