5 Alternative Authentication Types

By Christopher Fryzel

June 2, 2021

Password-based authentication methods can easily be done through phishing attacks. This leads to many users not protecting their passwords. Indeed, just 54% of users use five or fewer passwords for their accounts because they do not think that people are going to gain entry into their accounts. Authentication is useful because it prevents infiltrators from accessing databases, networks, and other resources. One way that cybercriminals improve their businesses is by improving their cyber attacks. To downplay the negative effects of these crimes and to prevent this kind of incident from happening, security teams must create better authentication strategies. Multi-factor authentication, certificate-based authentication, biometric authentication, token-based authentication, and single-sign-on solutions can improve passwords, eliminate passwords that are challenging to remember, prohibit attackers from exploiting passwords and breaching data with ease and enhance users’ online experience. 

Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a high-quality authentication method that utilizes two or more techniques that work independently of each other to identify each user. Examples of MFA include device-based verification, the use of additional passwords, CAPTCHA tests, and location-based information. These methods are designed to improve the user protection, safety, and confidence of clients. Even though it has many advantages, it also has a few disadvantages. One of them is that device-based confirmation can become impossible if someone loses their phone. So, MFA becomes increasingly time-consuming. To solve this difficulty, companies can enable multi-factor authentication to get rid of passwords that people have trouble recalling. If they do this, people’s digital experiences will become greatly enhanced.

Certificate-based Authentication

Certificate-based authentication is an excellent authentication method that can identify entities that try to sustain themselves through the use of digital certificates. A digital certificate (public key certificate) is a certificate that sets up a cryptographic link between a public key and the entity that owns it. Afterward, it uses the identity of the entity, a digital signature, and a public key to prove its ownership of a valid public key. This gives the owning entity permission to access the system. After this, people who use this kind of authentication must cryptographically verify the hidden key that goes with the public key to give the user access to the system because this method is efficient, unless the digital certificate is stolen. This method is used to prevent attackers from exploiting passwords and breaching data easily.

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication is a multifaceted authentication method that uses a person’s biological characteristics to access a system. Biometric authentication methods include facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, retina recognition, voice recognition, and numerous others. These methods are designed to enable people’s biological traits to become easily verified against features shared in a database, control access, and become seamlessly incorporated into multi-factor authentication operations. Each biometric method has both its pros and cons. For example, it can be unreliable with relatives or people with the same DNA, such as twins or triplets. Additionally, retinal scanning inaccuracies can occur when people use retina recognition. Consequently, these inaccuracies can adversely affect the quality of life of people who wear glasses and contacts. To solve these problems, companies can use biometric authentication to stop attackers from accessing people’s passwords and data breaches.

Token-based Authentication

Token-based authentication is a kind of authentication method that can enable users to enter their credentials in exchange for random, encrypted strings called tokens. Some cases of token-based authentication are REST APIs and APIs. APIs are application programming interfaces, which allow applications to access the features or data of another service, an application, or an operating system.  REST APIs allow for access to RESTful web services, which are particularly useful due to their scalability, simplicity, and performance over other designs. The goal of token-based authentication is for people to access protected computer systems with tokens so that they do not have to re-enter their credentials. An advantage of token-based authentication is that the tokens prove that each user has been authenticated. In this way, it can be used to improve people’s passwords by getting rid of the need to recall complicated passwords.

Single Sign-on

Single sign-on (SSO) solutions are an authentication method that can allow users to log into one application to gain access to multiple applications. The goal of single-sign on solutions is to make it unnecessary for people to have numerous kinds of credentials. Single sign-on solutions have more advantages than limitations. Companies can enforce their own SSOs by identifying a central knowledge base, such as an IAM system, and then connecting SSO links from one resource to another. The main advantage of single-sign on solutions is that when people use SSOs, it becomes easier to implement them because successful log-offs can happen in all parts of the computer system. In this way, SSOs can enable people to improve users’ passwords by getting rid of their need to remember complex passwords. humanID’s SSO, in particular, offers the best combination of simplicity and security for users. Our SSO is simpler than identifying a central knowledge base and afterward connecting the SSO links from one resource to another.

Overall, companies should utilize authentication methods to improve user security and safety because authentication eliminates the need for them to recall long, complicated passwords. If companies implement these techniques and improve upon them, they will prevent attackers from exploiting users’ passwords and easily breaching their data. Additionally, companies will improve the usage of the computer systems.