What is Authentication?

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With the booming increase in technological advancements, security and privacy are the concerns as data flow can be breached and misused over the network. Cybersecurity includes authentication as the initial step toward user data protection. Many computing devices i.e., mobile phones, IoT devices, tablets, etc., or user accounts across different applications online are the sources of important user data which might be on the brink of unauthorized access. This demands authentication deployment to protect the crucial data that users possess.

What is Authentication:

Authentication is the process used for verification of the user identity on a computing device. It can range from password protection to fingerprints and one-time passwords (OTP) to confirm the user identity. The user is required to submit their credentials and the system then stores them. Access might be given to the user only if a valid combination of credentials is submitted. Username and passwords required by most accounts, commonly Facebook, Gmail, etc., are usually the authentication factors. Authentication can be in the form of a pin code or password, a device, a card, or biometric identification.

Authentication is classified into three categories like Knowledge-based, Possession, and Inherence factor. The knowledge factor includes a set of credentials that the user has previously submitted based on something the user possesses knowledge about, most widely a password or a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

The possession factor relies on physical devices such as a token i.e., RFID tags or cards associated with users to demonstrate their identities which are pre-stored in the database of an enterprise. This category also offers a dynamic generation of One Time Passwords or OTPs to log into an account over a network, it is most widely used through mobile phones where the user is allowed to log in once the code is provided. It also includes token authentication, a protocol that generates a unique token for the user to access the data. For instance, unique ATM cards with pin codes.

An inherence factor, however, includes something the user inherits, such as biometric identification or facial recognition. Each category possesses specific vulnerabilities which are prone to cyber-attacks. As passwords are usually weak links and sometimes guessable for hackers, and biometrics are sometimes difficult to engage in on a smaller scale due to excessive cost and complex data tracking as biometric databases can be hacked and reciprocated.

Businesses need to be secure and get rid of the vulnerabilities of these factors, therefore, they intend to utilize 2-Factor or Multi-Factor authentications, which are a combination of two authentication factors such as password and biometrics combined. 2-FA is opted for by most cloud-based organizations for better security. However, 2-FA or MFA, enterprises are shifting towards Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication for faster access to credentials. SSO technology is feasible for the user as they need to log in once and then automatically authenticate them when accessed more than once by the same user. Both these technologies are being applied to many businesses making it challenging for hackers to breach into such applications

Summary:

As businesses are swiftly being shifted towards online platforms, it is essential to make these platforms secure enough for the users as well as the authorities to ensure minimal risks. Authentication plays a vital role in the online security environment, whereas enterprises should analyze each factor and opt for whichever fulfils security requirements accordingly.

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