Authentication is used by a wide variety of applications to grant customers access to a service, whether for work or for personal usage.
Varying verification methods are needed, each corresponding to various levels of risk depending on the severity of the information passing through the app.
Due to the prevalence of data breaches in the modern day, traditional authentication methods such as login and password are inadequate.
Instead, businesses should use a multi-factor authentication strategy that takes into account the limitations of each individual component.
Here, we'll explore several measures you may take to fortify your authentication procedures against potential threats.
We have shown that authentication is a difficult topic, and that it is simple for weaknesses and defects to appear. It would be impossible to detail every precaution you could take to keep your websites secure.
Although there are no hard and fast rules, there are several guidelines you should always adhere to.
Characteristics Used For Verification
A "factor" is any method of proving one's identity. They are put in place to ensure that the person logging in is who they say they are and to prevent access to anyone who does not pass the verification process.
The levels of certainty attached to each of these elements are described, from poor to good, across three distinct categories.
- Passwords and answers to standard questions are examples of knowledge factors.
- Possession factors are those that the user actually has access to. This entails the use of one-time passwords (OTPs), push notifications, and short message service (SMS) codes transmitted to mobile devices.
- What makes a user unique are their biometric characteristics. Facial recognition and fingerprint scanning are examples of biometrics.
There are security aspects that should be recognised before picking which of these to use to protect your organization's resources and data, despite the fact that they may seem strong enough on their own.
Multi-Factor Authentication with Guaranteed Security
Most types of validity are more powerful than others, and even those you may believe to be the most safe may be vulnerable to attack. This is especially true when building a tool to verify a user's identity. Applications as diverse as email and government websites utilise security questions. A Google account recovery study of significant size revealed that users had a hard time remembering the answers to security questions, whereas attackers have an easy time figuring out the questions.
Another seemingly secure step, sending an SMS code, is vulnerable to hacking. Since attackers can easily intercept a message intended for someone else's phone, the National International organization For standardization no longer recommends SMS codes as just an authentication mechanism. It is possible to misplace or steal a physical USB key or a mobile device running an authenticator app. If an adversary obtains hold of a controlling factor, the resource's authenticity cannot be verified.
Fingerprint factors like fingerprint and facial identification are widely regarded as the most secure, however even if they have vulnerabilities. We've all seen the tape-lifting technique, and the same applies to other biometrics: it's possible to fool applications into thinking a fake user has entered their credentials.
Flexible Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
When implementing a secure authentication mechanism, it is important to take into account the potential threats provided by each component and to use a combination of those factors to reduce or eliminate them.
To better align potential authentication elements with the risk level, an adaptive strategy that examines varying circumstances such as network, region, IP zone, and others is recommended.
If a user on your network and inside your organization's city and zip code requests authentication, you can probably verify their identity with just a password and some medium-to-high assurance authentication techniques like a physical key or biometric feature.
However, a mobile messaging request may be necessary to verify the user's identification if the request originates from an unfamiliar network or city.
All authentication factors, regardless of where they fall on the confidence spectrum, have holes.
Organizations who are serious about protecting their data, as well as the data of their employees and customers, should adopt an Adaptive MFA strategy that analyses the risk associated with each login request and chooses authentication factors accordingly.
FAQs About Security System
In security, authentication is the process of verifying whether someone (or something) is, in fact, who (or what) it is declared to be. Authentication: Verifying the identity of a user, process, or device, often as a prerequisite to allowing access to resources in an information system.
The Inherence Factor is often said to be the strongest of all authentication factors. The Inherence Factor asks the user to confirm their identity by presenting evidence inherent to their unique features.
Step up authentication can include any number of authentication methods, including MFA, one-time code over SMS, knowledge-based authentication (KBA), biometrics, etc.
Username and password is the least secure method of authentication in comparison of smart card and biometrics authentication. Username and password can be intercepted.
There are three basic types of authentication. The first is knowledge-based — something like a password or PIN code that only the identified user would know. The second is property-based, meaning the user possesses an access card, key, key fob or authorized device unique to them. The third is biologically based.
If you have to say something positive about password authentication, it's at least an improvement over the alternative. Millions of credentials and user IDs have been compromised in high-profile hacks like Equifax, though, casting doubt on even that mild commendation. Consumers are lulled into a dangerously false sense of safety if they don't presume that some of their passwords have been breached.
A lot of businesses are still doing the same thing, including using passwords to protect sensitive company and consumer information. Any company still depending on password protection is taking a huge risk, both with their business and their reputation.
While they may have avoided a hack, Equifax has raised awareness of the limitations of password protection. Customers will be hesitant to provide you with their information if that's how you handle data security.
Be Cautious With User Passwords.
Password-protected systems are useless if you reveal your passwords to an attacker. Login credentials should never be sent over an unsecured connection. Be sure to force the use of HTTPS by redirecting any HTTP queries to HTTPS, even if you've already switched to using HTTPS for login requests.
You should also do an audit of your site to make sure that no usernames or emails are exposed in any way (such as in publicly viewable profiles or in HTTP response headers).
You Can't Rely On Users To Maintain Security.
Implementing stringent authentication procedures usually necessitates some extra work from your consumers. Due to human nature, some users will undoubtedly look for ways to avoid doing so. That's why it's crucial to use every means at your disposal to compel desired conduct.
The most blatant case is establishing a reliable password policy. People are able to circumvent security measures with more conventional methods by using obvious passwords.
Instead, it may be preferable to develop a basic password checker that gives users the freedom to try out different passwords and immediate feedback on how secure they are.
Guard Against Username Enumeration
If an attacker knows a user is present on the system, they have a much simpler time bypassing your authentication measures.
The fact that a certain individual has an account on a given website can be highly confidential in some circumstances.
For security purposes, it is recommended that you consistently utilise the same or comparable generic error messages regardless of the legitimacy of the intended username.
Finally, make it so that response times under varied conditions are indistinguishable, and use the same HTTP status code for every login request.
Use Strong Brute-Force Defenses
Given how easy it is to set up a brute-force attack, it's crucial that you take precautions to stop or at least impede any such attempts.
A strict IP-based user rate limiter is one of the most effective ways. Protections against attackers spoofing their IP address are a necessary part of this.
After a certain number of failed login attempts, it is recommended that a CAPTCHA test be presented to the user.
Keep in mind that this doesn't ensure that the risk of brute forcing has been eliminated. A potential attacker is more likely to give up and look for an easier target if the process is made as laborious and painstaking as feasible.
Verify Your Reasoning Three Times
Our testing labs have shown that even seemingly minor logic errors can jeopardise the security of a system, potentially putting your entire website and its visitors at risk.
For reliable authentication, it is essential to do a comprehensive audit of any verification and validation logic in order to find and fix any bugs. In the end, a check that is avoided is more harmful than no check-in anyway.
The Need for Supplementary Features Should Not Be Overlooked.
Avoid limiting yourself to only the primary login screens and missing out on other authentication features.
This is especially vital if the attacker is allowed to sign up for an account and test out the features themselves. Do not forget that a reset password or change is an equally legitimate attack area as the basic login mechanism, and thus requires the same level of security.
Install a Reliable Multi-Factor Authentication System.
Multi-factor authentication is more secure than password-only login when implemented properly but isn't always a viable option for websites. Keep in mind that multi-factor authentication is not achieved by confirming numerous occurrences of the same factor.
Using email to provide verification codes is essentially just a more verbose type of single-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication through text message (SMS) verifies two variables (something you know and something you have). This mechanism can be unstable, however, due to the possibility of abuse, such as SIM switching.
A specialized device or app which generates the authentication code directly is recommended for use with 2FA. Generally speaking, the security of these is higher because they were designed specifically to do so.
Finally, ensure that the logic behind your 2FA verification is robust and cannot be readily circumvented, just as you would with the main verification logic.
There Is a Standardised Set of Requirements That Apply to Both Online and Offline Authentication Methods
To safeguard the identity-holder while providing adequate assurance to the service provider, end user, or other party depending on the claimed identity. For the most part, an authentication system needs to:
Only respond with a yes or no depending on the authentication result, rather than disclosing personal information unless absolutely necessary (such as when adhering to anti-money-laundering (AML) rules and regs for customer fact-checking (CDD)), and only then with the individual's express permission and full protection of their data.
Protocols for handling problems and resolving complaints in the event that authentication fails should be well-established and simple to access (e.g., a false negative biometric result).
Due to ID system flaws, no person should be denied a service or entitlement (or have their access made more difficult).
Make it easier to audit transactions by implementing safeguards like tamper-proof logs, certifying authenticating devices, and naming both the organisations and individuals who can be relied upon as verifiers.
Ensure that the ID authority and other parties cannot utilise transaction metadata to monitor or profile the ID holder in any way (e.g. through encryption, hashing, anonymisation of data, decentralisation of such data etc.).
In order to prevent the loss or compromise of identity data that has been shared by the ID system and retained by relying party as part of the authentication procedure, certain safeguards must be in place.
Protect the authentication system from being compromised by implementing measures to prevent unauthorised parties from guessing, eavesdropping, replaying, or otherwise manipulating communications conform to the requirements of the applicable laws and regulations.
A formal agreement (such as a memo of understanding) outlining separate obligations can govern the unique connection between the Identification system and the dependent party.
Some authentication procedures, both online and offline, are described, as they are typically employed in basic ID systems.
The ID system's credential types will inform the decision of which tools to modify, and these in turn will need to be suitable for the system's planned use cases and country-specific constraints like connection and digital skills.
Offline verification, in use for in-person transactions, once connectivity is unusable or unnecessary, must offer a way to confirm that now the person asserting their identity is who those who claim to be by referring to certain other systems (such as remote identity datasets, internet services, etc.) and, if possible, that now the qualifications they present are genuine.
- Comparison using only the ID card's visual characteristics (i.e., no digital verification) vs. Conventional methods of authentication have relied on human inspection of credentials (often ID cards) to ascertain their authenticity (e.g., via integrated security measures) and evaluate if the individual or their physical sign resembles the picture or signature featured on the credential. This approach is simple to understand and use (besides giving the credential directly), but it offers less security and more room for fraud than digital authentication due to the possibility of human error and discretion throughout the authentication process. But for low-risk transactions, this could be the best option, and the only one available in places where there is no access to the internet or power. For authentication security features to be effective, those who rely on them must be aware of them and have the proper tools at their disposal, such as a UV light in the case with level 2 (covert) protection features.
- Verification of identity using digital means, using smartcard data: Smartcards enable more secure offline authentication than traditional methods.Card readers (or receivers, in the case of contactless cards) with text input and biometric scanners (such as fingerprint or iris scanners) allow for a comparison to be conducted between the authenticators presented (such as a PIN or fingerprints) and the data contained in the microchip of the card. Card readers and their related software or the embedded microprocessors on the cards themselves can perform the matching (e.g., a tablet or smartphone).
- Despite their usefulness, smartcards can be costly to implement due to the need to buy card readers, distribute them, and train staff to use them (e.g., POS devices). Some pricey smartcards are now in development because of their built-in fingerprint sensor & power supply. Smartcards that are never connected to an online network are no more secure than traditional ID cards because a compromised card could still be used without anybody knowing.
Additionally, when a smartcard has been issued, there is no way to ensure that its contents will remain secure and intact (e.g., in 2018, recall and reissue a significant proportion of smartcards in circulation because of a security flaw related to the private key stored on the chip).
Many nations have given smartcards without establishing the necessary supporting infrastructure, rendering them largely ineffective compared to conventional IDs.
- When used with readers as well as software that can fit authenticators (e.g., PIN, biometric identification, photo) to those saved in the barcode on its own or in documentation in a local database that the QR code points to, cards, certs, or mobile apps with 2D barcodes (e.g., QR codes) also provide the option of digital, offline authentication.
- Printed Aadhaar registration letters (sometimes called "cards") in India, for instance, now include a secure barcode with biographical information and a low-resolution facial photograph of the order to permit a manual comparison. QR-code documents are less secure than smartcards but are less expensive to produce. A QR code, for instance, could be compromised if a photograph were taken of it. Similarly, the amount of data they can store is restricted by the card's physical size. Damage from scratches or other sources can cause data to be illegible in barcodes of higher density.
- If you wanted to save a fingerprint image on a QR code, for example, you'd end up with an extremely crowded code and leave your fingerprint vulnerable to replication (e.g., printed on other cards). Barcodes present another difficulty in terms of managing decryption keys in offline settings, which is a major bottleneck for their use as authentication factors. It is possible for an adversary to create a fake credential by decoding a legitimate barcode if the secret to decrypt it is widely disseminated.
Verification of Identity in Cyberspace
Online verification can be utilised for both on-premises and over-the-internet transactions, provided that the relying party and user have access to a network that can send and receive data securely.
There are more authentication factors available and a "live" source with online authentication, therefore the level of confidence is increased. However, it may also increase the chances of cyber-attacks and better data protection.
The credentials, authentication tokens, and protocols employed all contribute to the varying degrees of assurance afforded by online authentication techniques.
It is important for practitioners to select authentication methods with commitment levels that are commensurate with the nature of the transaction, but they must also take into account the ease of use for all users, especially those who may be at a disadvantage due to factors such as low literacy, age, disability, or unstable internet or mobile interconnection.
Using card-based identification for remote activities (such as e-services), for instance, would necessitate buying and distributing card and biometrics readers to every user, which could slow down widespread adoption.
A user's identity can be checked by using a method called authentication. Depending on the sensitive nature of the data being processed by the app, different verification strategies will be required to adequately address the associated risks.
Despite the lack of a set of inflexible regulations, there are a few best practises that should always be followed. The authenticity cannot be confirmed if an enemy gets control of the determining element.
Businesses should implement a multi-factor authentication (MFA) approach that can adapt to the level of risk associated with each login attempt.
The Equifax breach has shown how vulnerable passwords can be. Passwords should never be transmitted via an insecure channel. If you use a password checker, you can ensure that users are using secure passwords.
Error messages should be consistent regardless of user account. You must take measures to prevent or significantly slow down any such efforts.
One of the most efficient approaches is to adopt a rigors IP-based user rate limiter. It is suggested that a CAPTCHA test be displayed after a certain number of unsuccessful login attempts. An identical set of criteria is used for both online and offline authentication processes.
To protect the identity holder while satisfying the need for authentication on the part of the service provider, end user, or other interested party. Some online and offline authentication processes are detailed, as they are frequently used in foundational ID systems.
The legitimacy of credentials has always been determined through human scrutiny. Although smartcards provide safer offline authentication than standard techniques, they are not inherently safer than standard ID cards.
Users need to understand how authentication security features work and be able to use them effectively for authentication measures to be implemented. Compared to traditional cards, smartcards and QR-code papers are easier to make and therefore less expensive. The size of the card limits the amount of information it can hold.
Higher-density barcodes are more susceptible to damage, such as scratches, which can render the encoded information unreadable. In-person and web-based exchanges alike can benefit from online verification.
The level of trust is higher since there are more authentication factors accessible, including a "live" source with online authentication. On the flip side, it could make cyber attacks more likely and improve security for sensitive information.
- Depending on the sensitive nature of the data being processed by the app, different verification strategies will be required to adequately address the associated risks.
- Login and password systems are antiquated and insecure in the face of today's frequent data breaches.
- In its place, enterprises should employ a multi-factor authentication strategy that recognises the limitations of each component.
- In this article, we'll discuss several precautions you can take to make your authentication processes more resistant to attacks.
- Unfortunately, even this seemingly safe step—sending an SMS code—can be compromised.
- Despite their flaws, fingerprint and face recognition systems have gained widespread acceptance as the safest authentication methods.
- The implementation of a safe authentication process requires consideration of the possible dangers offered by each component and the usage of a combination of those elements to lessen or eliminate them. This is where flexible multi-factor authentication (MFA) comes in.
- If a company is serious about securing its data and the data of its employees and customers, it should implement an Adaptive MFA strategy that evaluates the risk of each login request and selects authentication factors accordingly.
- Many organisations continue to rely on passwords and other antiquated methods for securing customer and company data.
- Even though Equifax managed to prevent a hack, the company has brought attention to the weaknesses of password security.
- If an attacker gains access to your passwords, your password-protected systems are rendered useless.
- By allowing only passwords that score highly with the checker, you can more effectively enforce the usage of strong passwords than with ordinary restrictions.
- One of the most efficient approaches is to adopt a rigors IP-based user rate limiter.
- Auditing the verification and validation logic thoroughly to detect and correct problems is crucial for ensuring secure authentication.
- Don't lose out on additional layers of security by focusing exclusively on the major login screens.
- A solid multi-factor authentication system should be set up.
- Implement safeguards to stop unauthorised individuals from guessing, listening, replaying, or otherwise manipulating messages in order to keep the authentication system secure.
- comply with all relevant legal and regulatory obligations.
- Some online and offline authentication processes are detailed, as they are frequently used in foundational ID systems.
- When doing a transaction in person, offline verification is used when connectivity is unavailable or not necessary. This type of verification must provide a mechanism to verify that the individual claiming to be someone else is actually that person by referring to other systems (such as remote identity datasets, internet services, etc.)
- The difference between digital verification and relying just on the ID card's aesthetic attributes Previous authentication techniques depended on human inspection of credentials (often ID cards) to determine their authenticity and evaluate if the individual or their physical sign resembled the photo or signature depicted on the credential.
- digital identity verification based on smartcard information: Smartcards provide a safer alternative to conventional offline authentication techniques.
- Smartcards are generally unsuccessful when compared to traditional IDs because they have been distributed in many countries without the requisite accompanying infrastructure.
- Cards, certificates, or mobile apps with 2D barcodes also provide the option of digital, offline authentication when used with readers and software that can match authenticators to those saved in the barcode on its own or in documentation in a local database to which the QR code points.
- A smartcard's security features are superior to those of QR codes, but smartcards are more expensive to manufacture.
- As with other storage media, the capacity of these cards is limited by their actual size.
- A significant barrier to barcodes' deployment as authentication elements is the complexity they introduce to offline key management.
- If the key of decrypting barcodes is widely shared, an attacker could use it to build phoney credentials by copying real ones.
- Both on-premises and online transactions can benefit from online verification, so long as the relying party and user have access to a network that can transmit and receive data securely.
- The level of trust is higher since there are more authentication factors accessible, including a "live" source with online authentication.
- Different online authentication methods provide varied levels of security depending on the credentials, authentication tokens, and protocols used.
- Practitioners should choose authentication methods with commitment levels that are appropriate for the transaction at hand, but they should also keep in mind the usability for all users, including those who may be at a disadvantage due to factors like low literacy, age, disability, or unstable internet or mobile interconnection.