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The Benefits of Passwordless Authentication

Passwords continue to pose a serious security risk in the cyber world. Many organizations overestimate the resilience of their security systems just because they use password authentication, the traditional authentication method for businesses.


Here are the main benefits of switching to passwordless authentication to strengthen your cyber security posture.

What Is Passwordless Authentication?


Passwordless authentication removes the password part of your authentication process, deeming it unacceptable or inadequate. So long as the solution is reliable and high quality, it serves to be an even more secure authentication method than passwords with multi-factor authentication (MFA).


Passwordless authentication typically means that the user attempting to access the system must have the appropriate device in their possession (their tablet, phone, etc.) and some sort of additional identifier, such as their biometric identifier (for example, their thumbprint).


Benefits of Passwordless Authentication


Now that you know more about passwordless authentication and how it works, it’s time to discuss how it can improve your business’s security and your employees’ experience. Here are some of the benefits of passwordless authentication.


1. Passwordless Authentication Is More Convenient


One of the biggest, and perhaps most visible, benefits of implementing a passwordless authentication system for your business is the convenience it offers your user base.

While users can easily create passwords when they first make an account, short passwords are problematic security risks, and longer ones are hard to remember. Even the best autogenerated passwords can lead to a high frequency of forgotten passwords. Users do not enjoy having to use the forgotten password functionality.


2. Going Passwordless Boosts Your Security


Cybercriminals have decades of experience and technological advancements in cracking passwords. As a result, they are intimately familiar with brute forcing passwords, credential stuffing, dictionary attacks, rainbow attacks, and one of the most common types of cybercrime: phishing. A majority of cyber attacks reported around the world begin with some sort of phishing, which typically targets vulnerable passwords.


Passwords are a point of vulnerability that malicious threat actors easily exploit. In addition, keylogging software and other password-related threats pose severe risks to network and financial systems worldwide. So what can businesses do in today’s cyber security landscape to avoid all these attacks targeting password authentication systems?


The easy solution is to go passwordless. Your business will be instantly removed from the list of organizations vulnerable to password-based attacks. You will be naturally protected against threats to password security because certain ones will simply not be effective against a system that does not use passwords.


3. You can eliminate password security expenses


Cyber security is no joke. The good news is that companies know this and invest in protecting their digital assets and data. The bad news is that password-related expenses add up in the long run. Going passwordless can deeply reduce your authentication-related costs. In 2019, Microsoft pointed out how inherently problematic password authentication systems are and how going passwordless reduced its authentication costs by 87% (both hard and soft costs).


As an added advantage, cybercriminals have to spend extra money to crack passwordless authentication systems. The added difficulty and cost of attacks make hackers less likely to target companies that use passwordless authentication.


4. Your users enjoy a quicker login experience


There are many alternatives to passwords that are becoming easier to perform every year. Passwordless authentication can come in the form of mobile phone authentication, email notifications, and biometric authentication. As technology advances, passwordless authentication becomes more accessible and faster for customers.


The typical web user is also more accustomed to and comfortable with passwordless as more companies switch how they authenticate. This means that a password-free future may be quite possible and is on the horizon as businesses understand how beneficial passwordless authentication can be.


What are the types of passwordless authentication?


If you’re considering going passwordless for your company or learning how to implement passwordless authentication, here are some popular passwordless authentication methods' pros and cons.


Biometric identity authentication

Biometrics are more commonly stored and used for business and consumer purposes these days. Biometrics have the advantage of being unique and convenient for verifying someone’s identity without needing any extra password input. Physical authentication involving biometrics includes verifying fingerprints, faces, and other physical attributes.


Magic links

These are similar to one-time passwords. They are sent to users’ emails, and they have to click the link each time in order to access their accounts. One issue that magic links face is that they may be confused with phishing emails which may make it more difficult for customers to feel secure.


Push notifications

Many people carry their mobile phones with them in this day and age. A dedicated and trusted mobile authenticator app (such as Google Authenticator) is commonly used to notify users that there has been a login attempt, and they have to tap the push notification in order to verify that this was a legitimate access attempt.


One-time passcodes

One-time passwords (OTP) are typically sent to user emails or mobile devices. Unlike magic links, it is the temporary usable password itself that is sent as opposed to an actual link. This can be very useful in boosting your organization’s cyber security, and many agencies and even government entities use OTP for an additional layer of authentication security.

Unfortunately, using OTPs is not a bulletproof method. Hackers know to leverage trojans and other malware to bypass OTP cyber security measures. It is the reason many companies have opted into other advanced passwordless authentication.


What challenges does passwordless authentication face?


High upfront cost of deployment

An effective and secure passwordless authentication system may require significant training and deployment costs. This may involve paying management fees, paying for hardware installation expenses, buying cards and tokens for verification for your workers, and more.


Hesitance in terms of migration

Many businesses are wary of migrating their pre-existing authentication system to a passwordless one. If you are in the process of deciding whether your business should go passwordless, it may be worth the effort to research your particular market and see if your competitors have chosen to go with passwordless authentication. This way, you can see if your audience and customer base would be on board with a new login system.


Conclusion

Passwordless authentication is a great choice for many organizations concerned with cybersecurity, employee and customer experience, and staying up-to-date with the latest systems. While the benefits may not outweigh the challenges for all organizations, passwordless authentication is a great tool that many companies can benefit from.


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