Passwordless authentication offers your enterprise’s customers better experience and security. Read on to learn how.

What is passwordless authentication?

Passwordless authentication is one way to authenticate your enterprise’s customers when they access your services and applications without using a password. It replaces the username-password combination and uses other authentication methods to verify the user. 

There are authentication factors :

  1. Knowledge factor also known as what you know like a password
  2. Possession factor, or what you have like a mobile device or access key
  3. Inherence factor, or what you are or inherent with you, like your fingerprint, your facial features, your voice, or the biometric information that is unique to you.

Although passwordless authentication provides alternatives to the traditional username and password combination, other non-password authentication can be added to strengthen the authentication process. For example, an enterprise can give its customers the option to use two-factor authentication (2FA) to add a second layer of security in the login process. 

Type of passwordless authentication

Passwordless authentication falls under the category of multi-factor authentication (MFA), where authentication is done in layers to provide the best protection against malicious attacks and improve overall security.

Here are some examples of password authentication:

One-Time Password or Passcode (OTP)

Probably the most common secondary authentication, OTPs provide a simple method to strengthen the login process. Usually added to username-password authentication, OTPs can be used as primary authentication: users can enter their username, and then an OTP is sent to them through SMS or other channels like mobile app authenticators (such as Google Authenticator), or security fobs that generate the codes. Since SMS isn’t always dependable for certain locations, Voice OTP may be offered to the customers as an alternative.  With Voice OTP, an end user or customer receives a voice call in which the OTP is dictated to the customer. The customer then provides the OTP to the login page to gain access.

Biometrics

Biometric authentication uses unique biological identifiers in order to authenticate a user into an application or a service. Since each person has unique biological characteristics, compromising this authentication method will be difficult, but necessarily impossible. Some malicious actors have successfully overridden facial recognition systems using masks and photos. The key to the success of biometric authentication is to select the most convenient for the customer, and the most unique, like fingerprints and irises.

Device Fingerprinting

Perhaps one of the most convenient ways for users to be authenticated is by using device fingerprinting. When customers register  for an account, they can opt to register their device as an authentication option. Unique identifiers about the device used to create the account are recorded, creating a digital fingerprint of that device. When customers try to login, the authentication service will check the digital fingerprint of the device the user is logging from and if it matches the device fingerprint on record for that account,  they are given access. The customer can register additional devices for better convenience. If they access their account from an unregistered device, they will be prompted to use the primary authentication process, then register that device, optionally.

Login (Magic) Links

Similar to one-time passwords, login links are sent to the customers’ email after entering their usernames. Once the customer clicks on the link, they’re redirected to the application and given access. The login link is sent to a user each time the user logs in to ensure safety.

Push notifications

Since mobile devices are widely used by customers, push notifications can be used to replace the password entry requirements for authentication. Similar to login links, once customers enter their usernames, a push notification will be sent to their registered devices. They then confirm that they are trying to log in by clicking the confirmation button or link. After that, they’re logged on to the application or service.

Benefits of passwordless authentication

Better customer experience

Passwordless authentication provides enterprise customers a better experience by lessening the passwords they need to memorize. It offers great convenience for the end user, by avoiding typing passwords every time they log in. This reduces the friction in accessing your services and applications. By minimizing the hassle in logging in, your customers start their experience with your product on a positive note.

Greater security 

Some people reuse their passwords on different websites and applications. When one of these sites get hacked or have a data breach, users’ passwords are often released on the world wide web. Any malicious actor can use the username and password combinations from these data breaches and try them on other websites to see if they can gain access using the compromised information. With passwordless authentication, username and password pairs are removed or strengthened with authentication methods that use inherence or possession factors.

Reduced costs and resource allocations

Passwordless authentication reduces costs on resources for password management and storage.  Common issues that passwordless authentication can reduce or totally remove are resetting of passwords and implementation of password policies (password expirations and renewals). It’s fairly common for end users to just reset their passwords when they can’t remember them. Multiplying this transaction over thousands or millions of end users will definitely have an impact on an enterprise’s IT infrastructure and resources.

Passwordless authentication provides better customer experience and higher security for your customer identity needs. With Next Reason’s Next Identity platform and services, you can maximize these benefits for your customer identity and authentication management requirements. Contact us now to learn how.