When it comes to digital accounts, cybersecurity essentially has a two-fold role: to permit access to authorized users, and to deny access to unauthorized ones. For quite some time now, passwords have been the prevalent security measure that fulfills this role. However, what worked then is becoming more and more ineffective by the day. Here are a few reasons why passwords are no longer sufficient — and why you should consider shifting to using passwordless access instead.
Users are having difficulty managing their passwords
Using passwords requires memorizing strings of characters. This is easy enough to do if all one has to do is memorize one password, but your staff likely have personal and professional accounts for their email, apps, and devices. Others with critical responsibilities manage corporate accounts as well. Unless one has impeccable memory, it’s nearly impossible to memorize passwords for every account.
When things are difficult, it is only natural for people to do things the easy way. Staff members tend to:
- Recycle old passwords – this means one stolen password can compromise multiple accounts
- Use simpler passwords – these are quicker to break with a brute force attack (more on this below)
Smarter users will utilize password managers — online vaults where you can create and keep strong passwords for all of your accounts behind one very strong master password. This is all well and good until you consider that you’re essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket. If your password manager account is hacked, then all of the accounts it is supposed to protect are practically hacked as well.
Cybercriminals are getting better and better at stealing passwords
There are many ways that cybercriminals can employ to get your password.
Brute force attack
A threat actor uses powerful hardware and software to try thousands, if not millions, of password combinations until they guess the right one. The fewer characters a password has, the easier it is to crack.
Cybercriminals will send emails convincing recipients to click on links that lead the latter to spoofed login pages. Because the email convinced recipients that they need to resolve an urgent matter regarding their account, they’ll enter their access credentials, unwittingly giving these to cybercriminals.
Buying it from the dark web
Many high-profile data breaches involve account access credentials. If account holders aren’t notified that their account may be vulnerable — or if they are notified but do not change their credentials quickly enough, then cybercriminals can just buy the stolen credentials and access accounts, especially the ones that are not protected by multifactor authentication.
Additionally, if the account holder reuses passwords, then the other accounts that use those passwords can be broken into as well.
It is time to go passwordless
The current response to making passwords continue to work is to add additional access requirements in the form of multifactor authentication (MFA). The extra security this provides accounts is supposed to be worth the extra hassle that users have to go through. However, deploying MFA incurs additional costs that organizations aren’t so eager to take on while the economy is still battered by COVID-19.
Additionally, MFA assumes that passwords are still necessary, but it turns out that this is incorrect. It is time to do away with password-based authentication and use passwordless measures instead.
Passwordless keys are conceptually similar to physical keys used for opening locks. Hardware security tokens such as thumb drives and smart cards that utilize near field communication to permit access to physical rooms can be used to gain access to digital accounts.
While using passwordless keys is more secure than using passwords, deploying these is costly, not to mention the fact that these physical objects may be lost or stolen.
New cybersecurity solution developers such as keyless.io are utilizing biometrics so that the account holders themselves become the keys to their respective accounts. With the possession of the account holder’s trusted device as the secondary factor for identity authentication, using keyless passwordless biometric authentication is multifactor by design. This means that this mode of authentication may be the most frictionless out there yet.
At the same time, it offers incredible security. Cybercriminals who are fond of attacking their victims from afar will be inhibited from doing so. The former will need to capture their targets and coerce biometric authentication to access the latter’s accounts.
Last but not least, this solution may be the most cost-effective around. This is because there’s not much to pay for other than the flat fees for software and subscription fees for services. There will no longer be any need to pay for password managers, other MFA solutions, or passwordless keys.
TL;DR: Ditch password-based authentication
Rely on In-Touch IT to provide you with IT options that will work best for your business. To know your options for passwordless authentication and other bleeding-edge cybersecurity solutions, schedule a consultation with our cybersecurity specialists today.