Password Security: Is Passwordless Authentication the Future?

In 2021, Password Offenders literally broke their own records by breaching billions of records that belonged to internet users of various platforms and businesses like Facebook, GoDaddy, and several others. During this dark year, threat actors compiled and exposed billions of passwords on several forums catering to hackers. The two most prominent leaks were the RockYou2021 leak which exposed 8.4 billion passwords and the COMB leak, which again exposed 3.2 billion emails and passwords.

Even large businesses like Facebook and GoDaddy were not spared and while Facebook’s 533 million records were exposed, GoDaddy’s 1.2 million user records were impacted as well. In fact, even the New York City Law Department’s IT infrastructure was infiltrated by stealing one of the worker’s passwords. From password spraying attacks to unprotected databases and more, there are many ways to steal or hack passwords and force entry into an IT ecosystem.

With so many hacking techniques out there, protecting passwords can be overwhelming for businesses. Nonetheless, to remain compliant with laws like the GDPR, PCI DSS, etc... businesses go that extra mile and implement password risk mitigation and protection measures like password checkers and password security questions. A password checker is a tool that evaluates the password’s strength, while the password security questions confirm user identity in case of anomalies like device change. However, those are futile and additional passwords in the guise of answers to common questions like ‘What your High School Mascot was?” or “Which school did you go to?”.  Answers to these common questions are easier to guess than the passwords they are protecting, and they do more harm than good from a security perspective.

Getting Rid of Passwords

We live in a digital era, where everything we do requires authentication — a reason why the average internet user could have 90 or more passwords. Needless to say, remembering all of them can be extremely difficult, and to simplify that, technologists came up with password managers. Although it may have seemed like a viable solution back then, password managers are not entirely secure and some of them have been breached, like LastPass. Nonetheless, they are convenient and save the user from the hassles of remembering all those passwords.

So, the only way to eliminate password-related risks is by getting rid of passwords and transitioning into a password-less ecosystem by replacing this archaic mode of authentication with a more sophisticated and secure method. By now, you are probably wondering what we mean by passwordless authentication and how practical, feasible, and cost-efficient going passwordless would be. If so, keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about this innovative solution.

What is Passwordless Authentication?

Passwordless authentication refers to a mechanism that involves the use of biometrics, time-based one-time passwords (TOTPs), or other mechanisms instead of archaic memory-based passwords. Although not a foolproof solution, these are a much safer choice because their use prevents some of the most common types of password breaches like password spraying, dictionary attacks password re-use or theft, which can be launched by even the most inexperienced hackers who have access to password cracking applications.

Now, that is not the case with passwordless authentication, which is much safer, more secure, and easier to use than having to type in passwords. So, is passwordless authentication the same as Multifactor authentication? Let’s find out and then move on to discuss how you can go passwordless.

Multifactor Authentication vs. Passwordless Authentication

Multifactor authentication refers to an authentication system that involves verifying the user’s identity using multiple primary and secondary factors. On the other hand, passwordless authentication aims at replacing memory-based passwords with a more secure alternative. So, the manner in which the two concepts work is quite different, but these terms are used interchangeably. The reason for this confusion is the fact that most multifactor authentication mechanisms make use of a passwordless authenticator like fingerprint or iris as a secondary authentication factor.

How to go Passwordless?

If you own an application or an online business and are concerned about password-related risks, then it's time to transition into a passwordless environment. Businesses of all sizes can do this without any hassles by implementing custom-made solutions like Auth Armor which can easily be integrated into any website or web-based application. We offer free 5,000 authentications each month, or 250 active monthly users, witch ever you prefer. After the free tier, pricing depends on your requirements, so you can check that here by entering relevant details.

Can't go Passwordless just yet?

Killing passwords is the future - but today, we still have them. It's not easy to just switch to a passwordless model right away. So, what can you do about that? Well, you can help protect passwords with Multi-Factor or 2FA. And we can help with that too. Instead of using cumbersome code-based authenticators, the Auth Armor Authenticator can provide cryptographically secure 2FA to help protect existing password-based accounts. We can also help put you on a path to passwordless education for your users and a roadmap for moving to completely passwordless in a short amount of time.

Final Takeaway

Password-based attacks have taken down countless businesses and if you don't want to be the next, then you must upgrade your technologies before it’s too late. If you are still worried about the costs, then you don't have to because although passwordless authenticators are highly sophisticated solutions, they turn out to be much cheaper than what businesses typically spend on implementing cyber security measures to thwart password-based attacks. If your business is caught between high cyber security costs and password-related security concerns, then maybe it's time to make the shift.