New technologies make life infinitely easier. You can conduct business transactions with someone across the globe in a matter of minutes. You can make consequential purchases with the click of a button. You can enter into a contract by using a digital signature.
But with all of these conveniences come a lot of risks — and some of them could be catastrophic for your business and brand reputation. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re following strong authentication practices. It’ll give you and your contacts the necessary peace of mind to do what needs to get done. But what are the best ways to ensure such authentication?
What is Authentication and how to obtain strong authentication?
Authentication refers to the process of verifying that a person is who they say they are. Once you are sure of the individual’s identity, you can proceed to conduct transactions in a safe manner.
In addition to traditional authentication methods (such as passwords), it has become common practice to implement multi factor strong authentication (MFA) methods to secure information. This involves requesting an additional step for the person to confirm their identity.
For example, receiving a text message with a code, or an email notification to verify an account. However, do keep in mind that using SMS/text messages as part of MFA can also lend itself to SIM swap fraud. So bypassing this option for also entering a PIN or fingerprint would be more secure.
The reason why MFA has become so popular is because passwords alone are not a safe way to protect data.
Why Passwords Alone Are Not Recommended as Strong Authentication Practice
Passwords have become as obsolete and impractical as phone books and answering machines. If you are still using this method as a barrier to access information, you should become aware of all the reasons why it’s time to update your authentication methods. These include:
Phishing attacks are popular because they work. While amateurish hackers may send obvious attempts, sophisticated ones can create emails and web pages that look uncannily identical to legitimate sources. And once a victim is manipulated into entering login credentials, cybercriminals can then use this information to either access data, or to get additional information from your contacts through social engineering.
Key Logging Malware
Another popular method of gaining access to password-secured information is to install keystroke logging surveillance. Once this is done, cybercriminals have access to everything you type into your computer and mobile devices.
In addition to passwords, this can include PIN and bank account/credit card numbers. They can be installed through phishing scams or computer viruses.
Password Cracking Tools
Some people use password cracking tools to recover forgotten passwords to their own accounts. However, more often than not, these tools are used by malicious unauthorized users.
Some of these may include a dictionary attack, which runs through lists of the most commonly used passwords, or a brute force attack, which uses bots to target websites’ login pages, then use different combinations of characters until they guess a correct one.
Passwords can become a hassle to remember; especially when having so many different accounts both for work and personal reasons. So it’s common for people to use easy-to-remember passwords — which are can be guessed by third parties just as easily. Some examples include home addresses, names of pets, birthdays, sports teams, or easy words such as qwerty, password, or 123456.
Sometimes, several people are aware of an account’s password. This could be because they use it together for work purposes (such as sharing marketing software tools), or because a former employee left a company and now a new hire is using their equipment without updating passwords. When this occurs, a sender of information cannot be fully certain that the recipient of data is the intended one.
Types of Strong Authentication Methods
Fortunately, there are different types of strong authentication methods that can give you better peace of mind when conducting transactions. These include:
Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)
This is also known as “something you know” authentication. This is done by asking the user security questions that only the intended recipient would know.
The types of questions vary, but common ones include adding a person’s previous address(es), date of the most recent transaction, amount of the most recent transaction, or answering questions that have been pre-selected by the user, such as the color of their car, where they went on their first date with their spouse, or their favorite food.
This is also known as “something you have” authentication. It refers to items such as asking for a computer’s serial number, card reader information, or requiring bluetooth connectivity of a specific device.
It’s a much more strong method of authentication, since passwords and knowledge-based authentication answers could be guessed either by someone who knows you well or by a hacker who installed a keylogger.
This is also known as “something you are” authentication. It refers to biometrics, and it’s the most reliable way of safeguarding information. Examples include fingerprints, retina scans, voice, and facial recognition. This is the most secure form of authentication, since unlike passwords, KBA, and possession authentication, they cannot be easily replicated.
6 Strong Authentication Best Practices
In order to maximize security, make sure to not only implement strong authentication practices but also train your entire team on how to use them.
Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)
As explained above, MFA provides additional layers of security to users who are still relying on passwords. Although multi-factor authentication is helpful, in order to be most effective, you should also implement other security practices in tandem, such as requiring MFA from everyone at your company and anyone else with whom you may share data, including business partners, contractors, vendors, and clients.
By the same token, apply such measures to all access points to your network, including devices, access to the cloud, VPNs, and server logins.
In order to make MFA less onerous for people who need regular access to sensitive information, you can require multiple authentication the first time they log in for the day, then allow continued access with regular login credentials.
However, to obtain strong authentication, you should also install software that alerts you to unusual activity, such as logging in from unknown devices or locations, during an unusual time of day or night, or multiple failed login attempts. By installing such active intelligence, you can terminate access to information as soon as it identifies threats.
Biometrics authenticate a person’s identity by measuring their biological data, such as facial recognition, fingerprints, voice recognition, or retina scans. They are a highly effective technology that comes with the benefit of no longer needing to remember login credentials.
If you want to step up security a notch, there’s also continuous and multi-factor biometric authentication, so that devices cannot be fooled with photographs of the authorized user. This is probably the most effective method regarding strong authentication.
Email authentication practices can help you filter out phishing scams and other impersonations. This can be done by using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols that only receive communications from pre-established IP addresses or domains.
One of the most effective ways of protecting your data is through complete enterprise identity and access management. By installing such controls, you can get full visibility into all documents and activities on shared platforms, regardless of whether they’re internal or external.
You are also able to build a “private pond” of pre-authorized users. When doing so, anyone outside of that list who attempts to send you any communications is blocked from reaching your pond.
As with anything else regarding technology, you should always assess risks and available updates and act accordingly. Maybe a specific type of authentication works well for your company today, yet may prove impractical in the future.
Make it a standard practice to go over your cybersecurity policies periodically to determine whether they are still effective.
Protect Your Network With Smart Eye Technology
At Smart Eye Technology, we provide powerful, comprehensive, and affordable cybersecurity measures across all devices. We also make things simple by allowing you to control all implemented tools from one single platform.
Contact us or schedule a demo to see how we can help you protect your network.