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A new era of security: are passwords no longer fit for purpose

25.07.2023
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Passwords have long been the go-to security measure for individuals and organisations worldwide. Yet, in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, the time-honoured password is proving inadequate. As IT teams strive to enhance cybersecurity defences, the shortcomings of passwords have come under scrutiny.

Terrorised by relentless cyberattacks, IT teams are tightening their grip on all security measures, including passwords. The demand for increasingly complex passwords, incorporating special characters and meeting length requirements, has made life challenging for end users. The average consumer in 2020 had to manage around 100 passwords—an unsustainable task. As a result, individuals resort to insecure practices like reusing passwords, writing them down, or using predictable combinations. This compromises the legitimacy and reliability of the entire password system.

To compound matters, hackers have capitalised on this weakness, fueling a thriving black market for stolen credentials. A survey by Digital Shadows revealed a 65% increase in the theft of usernames and passwords, with unauthorised access accounting for 50% of all breaches. It is clear that passwords are no longer fit for purpose. However, amidst this security conundrum, a revolutionary solution is emerging: passwordless authentication. Let's explore this paradigm shift and its potential to reshape our digital security landscape.

Cybersecurity measures have evolved significantly since the inception of passwords, offering a viable alternative: passwordless authentication. The concept behind passwordless authentication is simple—it relies on something you are or something you have, rather than something you know. While various authentication technologies have emerged, such as one-time passwords and biometrics, true passwordless systems go a step further. By leveraging signals and contextual orchestration, they present the most appropriate authentication prompt to users at the right time.

To establish user identity, passwordless systems analyse multiple signals. Basic signals like location and IP address provide a general indication but can be manipulated. However, device signals offer a more robust assessment. Recognising known devices and utilising built-in technologies like cameras or fingerprint readers strengthen authentication. Even more sophisticated are intelligent signals that consider user preferences, choices, and behaviours. By combining all these signals, a comprehensive authentication method can be determined based on the level of risk associated with a particular transaction.

To achieve the goal of a "Never Login Again" experience, the integration of signals with contextual orchestration is vital. Contextual orchestration allows users or software to choose the most appropriate login flow based on the situation. By ingesting contextual signals at each step, the authentication path can be altered dynamically. Factors such as device type, enrolled methods, resource access requirements, and user preferences all shape the authentication journey. A seamless, secure, and personalised passwordless experience can only be achieved through the successful integration of these inputs with a reliable hide VPN.

Implementing passwordless authentication requires careful consideration during the rollout phase. Disabling existing methods should only occur once sufficient data has been collected to identify and address emerging issues. As with any security measure, a one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. Organisations must design adaptive and responsive authentication journeys tailored to their unique needs, risk levels, and user populations. Additionally, fraud management should be seamlessly integrated into the authentication experience, leveraging AI to ensure smooth operations while enhancing security.