What Should You Know about Passwordless Multifactor Authentication?
You log into the same accounts every day using different passwords that seem safe enough. But, what if one day, one of your passwords gets compromised. What happens then? Well, you would probably change your password for that account and potentially others to be safe.
Surprisingly, other forms of authentication can protect you and your identity. Passwordless multifactor authentification, or passwordless MFA, uses more than one factor to log in to an account. It is a massive revamp in the world of security and can change the way we protect our identities.
Here, we will explain everything you should know about passwordless multifactor authentication.
Passwordless MFA – What Is It?
Do not be fooled by the term passwordless; it is precisely what you think. Passwordless multifactor authentication uses 2FA to grant access to accounts. This form of authentication is a significant leap from using simple passwords that are easily hackable. Using passwordless MFA is the ticket to avoiding hackers and creating a safer security environment.
Understanding How Passwordless Multifactor Authentication Works
Like we mentioned before, passwordless MFA uses multiple factors to log into an account. Typically, one can use three main types of factors – electronic items (FOB, tokens, phone), biometrics, and passwords. When using one-factor authentication, the system uses a single factor to log the user in. This form of authentication is prevalent with email, social media, and work or school platforms but holds a high-security risk. But now, even with these services, multifactor authentication is widely used.
So, how does passwordless authentication work? In addition to using a password, passwordless MFA will use a username-password combination with another factor like electronic items or biometrics. Factors like security questions, facial recognition, or fingerprints qualify as other factors. However, you do not always need this combination to have a passwordless MFA. You can have multiple factors that do not include username-password combinations and still have secure authentication.
With advancing technology, this type of authentication does not require passwords but relies on other factors. Keeping this in mind, you might be wondering if this is safe to do; the answer is yes, it is. In reality, this way is more secure and is hard for hackers to infiltrate. It would not be easy for someone to steal biometrics, TOTPs, secure PUSH notifications, security keys, and other multifactor authenticators compared to a single password. There are many great resources you can use to create a passwordless MFA system, like WinMagic.
What Are Different Types of Passwordless MFA?
As we know, there are a few different types of passwordless MFA factors that can be useful. Here are the most common methods to choose from:
- Credentials from a host device: This factor is attached to a host device. Its commonly used in employee and business networks. For example, the newly implemented Windows Hello combines a user biometric or pin with FIDO compliant credential to unlock.
- Biometrics: If you have a smartphone, you know what biometrics are. Fingerprints and facial recognition are the most common forms of biometrics to date, especially with Apple users. And, it can not only unlock a device itself but applications within the device.
- One-time codes: If you have ever logged into a website using Google or Facebook, a one-time code is often associated with your attempt. The user will have this code sent to their phone or email, and after they type this code into the website or app they are using. It is most common from the business-to-customer relationship rather than employee verification within the business.
- Hardware Security Tokens: These security tokens typically store PKI or Public Key Infrastructure. They are tokens, alternative to physically obtained passwords, making it virtually impossible to hack unless someone has the token. It’s a growing authentication device that many businesses are using, but it is a hassle to carry around.
Having a variety of authenticators is your best bet to getting the security you need. Thanks to modern technological advances, we’re able to prevent specific and common hacking issues.
Passwordless MFA Tackles Traditional MFA Security Risks
Now that we understand the different types of passwordless MFA methods, how will they tackle traditional MFA risks? Here, we’ll break it down:
- Password Spraying: A hacker attempts commonly used passwords, like trial and error.
- Credential Stuffing: The hacker will upload credentials from a database repeatedly in an attempt for one of the credentials to match the user.
- Shoulder Surfing: Common with insider hacking actors, it is how it sounds – an attacker will look over the user’s shoulder at their credentials and steals their information.
- Phishing: An attacker will impersonate someone deemed trustworthy and lead them to a site that will obtain passwords using an exploit kit. It is common among emails that phish for sensitive information.
- Negligence: This kind of threat isn’t malicious intent. Instead, it is negligence on behalf of the user. The system won’t have the needed protection against security threats, allowing credentials and other information to be compromised.
- Bribe: The attacker will pay or bribe someone working inside of a company or organization to perform a hack or allow other infiltrators to attack.
- Extortion: An attacker pretends to have possession, or actually has possession, of sensitive materials that could jeopardize an individual or company. They will, unfortunately, use this as leverage to infiltrate the individual or companies information.
- Copying Passwords: A hacker will take poorly managed passwords from easily obtainable material such as books or papers with passwords written on them.
- Brute Force Attacks: The hacker obtains a bulk of encrypted information and then uses a computer rig to get passwords inside the database.
- Application Vulnerabilities: A hacker will detect and insert malware into lags within a system, exploiting credentials.
Why Is Passwordless Multifactor Authentication Beneficial?
There are many ways your information can be compromised. That is why it is crucial to invest time and money into a safe network, either at home or within a business or government. While we know that keeping your information safe is vital, why are passwordless MFA’s beneficial to the user?
It Saves Money
Using passwords is costly since they require management systems to support user functionality. Passwords need occasional changes and resets, all of which contribute to high costs within a company. But, with passwordless authentication, there is little risk for hacker infiltrations, especially with phishing breaches.
Simple passwords are highly vulnerable to everyday users. When there is a passwordless MFA in use, there is a lower risk of phishing and credential attacks and many more threats, as mentioned above.
Creates a Better User Experience
Logging into a system without remembering a password creates a user-friendly environment while also increasing safer security measures. It eliminates the need to reset, change, or dig for lost or forgotten passwords. Who would not want that?
Whether you work at a large company, government organization, or everyday use of different applications and systems (email, school logins, social media, etc.), passwordless MFA is the way to go. If you are looking for a better, safer way to login into your everyday systems, passwordless MFA is your best line of defense. As technology advances, these MFA solutions will soon spread throughout the world.
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