The Future is Passwordless

Using passwords is one of the oldest, most common methods of verifying user identity. However, they are no longer enough, as made evident by the many instances of theft or breaking of credentials through spying, third-party interception, or brute force.

As a result, organizations are shifting to multi-factor authentication (MFA) systems that provide greater security for business and user information.

Why Are Companies Transitioning to Passwordless Authentication?

Passwords are risky, and companies that rely on this traditional method of authentication are far more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud than organizations with a comprehensive MFA framework.

Multi-Factor Authentication requires users to access the system by providing information that falls into at least two of the following categories:

  • Something you know – PINs and passcodes
  • Something you are – inheritance factors that can be verified through biometric scans
  • Something you have – mobile phones, key fobs, or electronic identity cards

The most common type of MFA is ATM cash withdrawal, where a user uses a debit card in combination with a PIN. The debit card is something the user has, while the PIN is something the user knows.

Multi-Factor Authentication is also more effective than traditional passwords since people are forgetful, fraud is prevalent and password authentication is costly:

People are Forgetful

Security professionals recommend using different passwords for each account users create, but remembering all of these is a hassle. Password complexity is another issue—account creation systems often require an alphanumeric password with a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters.

These complex requirements make passwords even more difficult for users to remember, leading to friction in the user experience (UX). A passwordless authentication system offers frictionless UX for your employees and your clients alike.

Fraud is Prevalent

Since people find it difficult to remember passwords, many use the same password across multiple accounts, making it easy for criminals to steal them through third-party interception. An online security survey conducted by Google in 2019 found that 52% of participants used the same password on two or more accounts.

Let's take the example of an employee in your company who uses the same password for their work account and their social media profiles. An identity thief spies on the employee and finds out their social media password, and then uses it to access your company network. A data breach like this compromises sensitive business and client data, leading to reputational and financial losses that your organization may never recover from.

Multi-Factor Authentication systems today often involve biometric verification, making them much safer than passwords, since inheritance factors cannot be stolen, lost, spoofed (easily spoofed, that is), or otherwise compromised. If you want to eliminate the risk of identity theft and keep company data safe, switching to MFA is your best option.

Password Authentication is Costly

Troubleshooting password issues requires staff to rectify any problems users face when accessing their accounts. And if it's already too late to fix the problem, the consequences of identity theft and fraud can cost your organization millions in reparations.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mandate that any business that fails to protect and use its client data in an ethical, legally compliant manner faces financial consequences. If your organization relies on passwords as a single-factor authentication (SFA) method, you're especially vulnerable to these and other severe repercussions.

Take, for example, Equifax's costly data breach in 2017. The credit bureau compromised the personal info of 147 million consumers due to insufficient security measures and had to pay up to $425 million as a global settlement with the FTC. The reparations were made to all consumers whose private information was misused by the cyber-criminals.

Companies don't just need to protect client data. They also need to protect confidential business information. For instance, software companies need to protect their source code, and pharmaceutical organizations' must protect sensitive information, such as product formulations.

Multi-Factor Authentication systems are more expensive to set up. But they are a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Refusing to Go Passwordless is Risky

Single-Factor Authentication methods that rely on passwords are risky for any organization to use today, as identity thieves grow increasingly sophisticated in their attacks. The level of security in your organization must match this sophistication, or you leave yourself exposed to identity theft, theft, and fraud.

The 2018 Global Password Security Report highlights that 50% of employees use the same password for their work and personal accounts. Even if you give employees predetermined passwords for work, identity thieves can access their company accounts through third-party interception. You have to decide whether that's a risk worth taking.

Cybercrimes are common not only for large organizations but also for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Ponemon Institute's 2018 cyber-security survey found that 67% of participating SMEs suffered a cyberattack that year. 

Since cybercriminals see all unprotected businesses as fair play, you have to improve your authentication systems to resist attacks. If your company's security system isn't agile, the long-term consequences you suffer may make it impossible for you to recover.

How Can You Transition to Passwordless Identity Verification?

Your organization can tie MFA solutions into your existing authentication systems or transition to a new, industry-standard authentication platform.

Among these industry-standard platforms is the open standard Security Assertion Mark-up Language (SAML). This standard verifies and authenticates user identity in office environments. Using SAML enables employees to access all the software suites they have permission to operate using a single digital signature.

Organizations that require greater security can even use SAML authentication to allow users to unlock their computer screen or open a door.

Another authorization framework that works well with Passwordless Identity Verification is the OAuth protocol. Employees use this protocol to pass authorization among one another while still protecting their login credentials. It's a time-saving method that's especially helpful in environments that require regular switching between job-critical applications. OAuth makes it possible for employees to use the same credentials and switch from one application to another without logging in continuously and remembering multiple credentials.

How Long Does it Take to Go Passwordless?

Passwordless authentication systems are much easier to enact than many believe.

  • For employees: IDmission's services enable you to transition thousands of employees as long as they are enrolled in the system. Registration involves collecting their biometrics, which is a time-consuming task. But once the biometrics are fed into the system, your passwordless authentication is ready to be implemented.
  • For customers: Customers can be onboarded quickly if they opt for passwordless account management. Passwordless authentication and account management are time-saving and make for a frictionless UX since customers don't have to remember passwords. This enables clients to sign up much faster and cuts out the need for staff to troubleshoot password issues.

Creating a Secure, Frictionless UX

Ask yourself how many accounts and passwords your employees and customers have to remember at any given time to stay ahead of identity thieves.

Going passwordless isn't about eliminating passwords entirely—it's about creating a security system in which your company's reliance on passwords is minimized. Reducing passwords develops an ultimately rewarding UX for both your employees and your clients.

Continuous user verification and risk-based authentication measures, such as keystroke rhythm recognition, retina scans, and facial identification, are far more effective and seamless than traditional passwords. These techniques rely on physical identifiers and behavioral patterns to produce a comprehensive end-to-end authentication solution.

Now is the Time to Go Passwordless

ISO-compliant, multi-factor authentication frameworks of passwordless systems conclusively determine that your users are who they say they are.

Passwordless authentication is the future, and companies that don't adopt it are likely to suffer the consequences of an insufficient security system.

IDmission's ISO-compliant MFA services include biometric verification. Our MFA system reduces the likelihood of fraud through security layers that are far more difficult to get through than traditional password-based authentication. If you want to find out how to prevent identity theft for your company, download our Say Goodbye to Identity Theft Solutions Guide.

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