What passwordless multi-factor authentication can do for companies

In our everyday life we ​​use a multitude of digital applications to communicate, to do business, to consume and also to organize our free time.

We have to set up an account for every service we sign up for, and passwords are almost always used for authentication in order to be able to access the application. But the security that passwords seem to offer is deceptive.

Security measure became a risk factor

What systems should secure through the unambiguous identification of the user is now a massive security problem for companies: Every password is linked to a person who, through his or her personal decisions, determines how secure (or insecure) he or she is to design their authentication process. The human factor is therefore the most important attack vector for cyber criminals.

In Europe, for example, the number of phishing attacks rose by 718 percent in 2019, according to Allot Research, and according to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report 2021, more than 80 percent of data breaches can be traced back to lost or stolen login data . Password spraying, a kind of brute force attack, keyloggers that are connected between the operating system and keyboard and send the input to another computer via the Internet, as well as social engineering, i.e. the exploitation of human inadequacies, are other common entry gates opened by passwords for criminals Activities.

In addition to a loss of image and reputation for an affected brand, particularly in compliance-critical industries, severe fines can also cause considerable costs, including threatening blackmail attempts by attackers. So there are many reasons why passwords as authentication criteria, contrary to their original intention, can reduce the security level of companies and be uneconomical.

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With the elimination of passwords, cyber criminals cannot take advantage of all of the loopholes listed above in the IT landscapes of companies or organizations. The often costly effort to design and manage access data as securely as possible is also becoming obsolete. The time-consuming resetting of passwords, including calls to the helpdesk to set up new accounts, which occurs with regular password changes, is no longer necessary. This means an enormous relief for both the employees and the IT departments.

Different technical solutions

The great challenge for passwordless authentication lies in the area of ​​identity verification. If someone accesses a system and there is no knowledge-based requirement (e.g. a password or a PIN), users must be able to identify themselves in a different way. This can be done using biometric processes (Face-ID, fingerprint, etc.), the use of security tokens (USB sticks or TANs) and the “piggyback process”, which already involves another application, another service or a device the person has authenticated.

Windows Hello is an example where the use of face or fingerprint recognition provides proof of identity for access to Windows 10. Passwordless solutions that are bundled with hardware and operating systems or are part of single sign-on provider functions, however, are generally only of limited use and cannot be used for multiple use cases. Pure-play providers who only develop authentication solutions tend to offer the best features.

Biometrics are already built into all commercially available smartphones, which quickly and conveniently confirm the identity of their owners via TouchID, FaceID or fingerprint sensors, for example to unlock the device. Providers such as Secret Double Octopus or hypr use this functionality for their passwordless authentication solutions. Veridium, in turn, has also developed a platform which, with its special, AI-based use of biometric data, creates a de facto non-reproducible identity of the user. How? Based on the individual movement patterns of the users.

Broad area of ​​application

Strongly regulated industries in particular can benefit from the use of passwordless multi-factor authentication solutions. Banks, for example, are often faced with the problem that their employees have to fight their way through a complex network of historically grown authentication solutions that come from different providers. Aside from the fundamental threat to system security from passwords, managing, monitoring, and administering so many options is costly and extremely inefficient. A passwordless solution, on the other hand, offers a high level of security as well as great convenience for employees.

In the healthcare sector, for example, highly critical data is administered day in and day out and millions of new data records are saved, accessed or networked with one another. Whether medical or administrative staff in health facilities, pharmacists or employees of health insurance companies or insurance companies – they all have access to this information in one form or another. A secure multi-factor authentication without passwords significantly minimizes the risk of data linked to medical services being stolen and misused, resulting in great financial and non-material damage.

The security of their IT landscape is also essential for industrial companies; password leaks or other attacks can threaten their very existence. The demands on your systems are extremely diverse, as they usually combine a number of business areas such as administration, logistics, production, HR or purchasing and sales under one roof. Their technical basis is therefore often different platforms and different legacy applications that are accessed. With passwordless authentication, rights management can be significantly simplified and cost-intensive password management is no longer necessary.

In online trading, passwordless solutions enable a pleasant user experience and telecom companies also benefit with lower personnel costs and greater customer satisfaction from the fact that registration is easier, faster and more secure, for example. This short list represents only a part of the application possibilities in which a passwordless multi-factor authentication not only ensures higher security, but also an economic added value on many levels.

Growing market opportunities for passwordless authentication

The change from the use of traditional passwords and the associated risks to passwordless authentication will continue to increase. In particular, the current global trend towards more and more remote work is contributing to increasing market opportunities for passwordless solutions. Since a mobile working culture is beginning to establish itself in many companies in the long term, it is more important than ever to give employees the tools and resources to be securely online – both in their private life and in the home office.

Passwordless authentication solutions that enable both corporate IT teams and employees to work more efficiently and securely in the new normal will be the new norm in the future.