What Factors Are Used For the User Authentication?

In the context of online security, User Authentication is of high importance. It is the process of confirming or verifying identity of a user over the internet. This process determines whether the individual is who he claims to be or not. For authenticating a user, the login credentials entered are compared to those on file in a database of authorized users’ information within an authentication server. If the credentials match, then the process is completed and the user is considered as an authentic user. Availability, Integrity, Authentication, Confidentiality and Non-repudiation are the five pillars of IA (Information Assurance).

Password-based authentication

Authenticating the users through the combination of just usernames and passwords is known as password-based authentication process. In this form of authentication, authenticity of the users is checked based only on the login credentials entered by them. There is no other factor involved to verify identity of the user. The passwords can be easily compromised by the hackers or intruders using the advanced hacking techniques, therefore password-based authentication is not considered to provide adequately strong security to the online accounts, sensitive data and information.

Authentication factors

The following factors are used for authenticating the users online:

Knowledge factors (something you know) – username, password, PIN, a security question. It is known as 1FA (One Factor Authentication).

Possession factors (something you have) – credit & a debit card, mobile phone. The combination of ‘something you know’ and ‘something you have’ forms 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) or Two Step Verification.

Inherence factors (something you are) – biometrics of the user such as iris, retina, face scan, voice recognition, fingerprint. The combination of ‘something you know’, ‘something you have’ and ‘something you are’ forms 3FA (Three Factor Authentication).

Time and Location factors – user location and current time are considered the fourth factor and fifth factor for authenticating a user.

Summary

2FA (Two Factor Authentication) and 3FA (Three Factor Authentication) are becoming common. 4FA and 5FA systems are used in some extremely high-security installations. The use of multiple factors increases security. It is because an attacker can’t access all the elements required in the authentication process. Each additional factor increases the security of the system and decreases the likelihood that it could be breached or compromised.

Top Reasons to Enable Two Factor Authentication Method

The password-only verification method, i.e. 1FA (One Factor Authentication), is no longer a secure way for all the authentic end users globally to access their valuable online accounts and sensitive data. It is because the password can be easily compromised or hacked by the hackers using advanced cryptographic techniques. Therefore, it is better to move to the next level of authentication for protecting the digital assets from getting compromised. One best option in this regard is Two Factor Authentication security method.

A brief about this method

Two Factor Authentication, or 2FA, is an authentication mechanism that requires two different factors; secret password and a unique verification code, in the login procedure to verify identity of the user who is logging in to the account. Every authentic end user knows his secret password; the first factor, and a unique verification code or OTP (One Time Password); the second factor, is sent to his registered mobile phone once he enters the correct login credentials.

The unique verification code is valid only for a few seconds. Due to the use of an additional step in the login process, Two Factor Authentication security method is also known as Two Step Verification.

Authentication factors

Knowledge factors (something you know) – username, password, PIN.

Possession factors (something you have) – credit & debit card, mobile phone.

Inherence factors (something you are) – iris, retina, face scan, voice recognition, fingerprint.

Time and Location factors

Reasons why you should enable Two Factor Authentication security method on all your online accounts are:

It’s simpler

Cash withdrawal through an ATM using your credit or debit card is an offline example of Two Factor Authentication method. In this cash withdrawal process, you need your card (something you have) and a secret 4-digit PIN (something you know). Without the availability of both these things, cash withdrawal is not possible.

The online example of 2FA method is log in to the net banking and transfer funds. In this login process, you prove your identity by entering your secret password and a unique verification code sent to your registered mobile phone. 2FA is a simple, inexpensive security measure to implement.

Mitigates the password problem

Changing the online accounts passwords frequently is a sound security practice. But, only a few end users worldwide follow it. Therefore, the best option is to enable Two Factor Authentication. With 2FA, if someone hacks your secret password, then he won’t succeed in accessing your account. It is because he must have your mobile phone as well to receive unique verification code.

Rapid increase in the cyberattacks

Two Factor Authentication has become extremely important with rapid increase in the security breaches or cyberattacks over the internet. 2FA adds an additional security layer or factor in the login procedure.

Protects sensitive data and information

Two Factor Authentication security method protects your sensitive data and information from all sorts of malicious activities. It gives an assurance that the password alone is not enough for an attacker or intruder to compromise your digital assets.

Warns you when someone else enters your login credentials

With 2FA turned on, you will be alerted with a security message or unique verification code on your registered mobile phone when someone else has entered the valid login credentials of your online account.

Hope, you have understood the importance of Two Factor Authentication security method for your digital assets. Enable this method today to prevent security breaches.