How to ensure a secure authentication method to your customers

Why you need an authentication method

An authentication method is a remote system based on digital technology that companies use to verify the identity of users and customers and ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information. For these reasons, it is popular in today’s organizations for a variety of purposes, from protecting financial accounts to accessing online services, to customer onboarding.

Not having an authentication system can be very risky, both for the company and the customer.

For the company, it may increase the risk of fraud and data breaches, as well as the potential for regulatory fines. In fact, without authentication methods in place, it can be difficult to monitor user activity or ensure compliance with security policies and regulatory standards, such as GDPR.

For customers, it may lead to identity theft and other types of malicious activities. Additionally, the user experience is also affected, especially in customer onboarding. In fact, without a remote authentication method, the customer is forced to go to the company’s headquarters to sign contracts and verify their identity. This is time-consuming, costly, and ultimately disincentivizes new customer acquisition.

Types of authentication methods

There are different types of authentication methods, offering different levels of security:

– Password and username: This is the most basic form of authentication, and it relies on a secret combination of username and password. This method offers only limited security, as passwords can be easily guessed or stolen.

– Knowledge-based authentication (KBA): This method requires the user to provide a valid answer to several personal questions. This can be effective in verifying identity and reducing fraud, but it can also be vulnerable if users don’t remember the answers or are tricked into providing incorrect information.

Two-factor authentication (2FA): This method adds an extra layer of security by requiring two pieces of evidence to verify the user’s identity. Common examples include using mobile phone numbers, biometric scans, or one-time passcodes sent via email or text message.

Biometrics: This type of authentication requires physical characteristics specific to each individual for verification, including fingerprints, facial recognition and iris recognition, voice recognition, and more. It is becoming increasingly popular in organizations due to its high level of accuracy.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA requires additional information beyond just a username and password. It typically uses a combination of something the user knows (such as a PIN or answer to a security question) and something the user has (a token or an OTP sent via push notification) and something the user is (biometric data). This type of authentication is considered more secure, since an attacker who was to be able to steal a password would have difficulty finding the OTP and, even more so, forge a physical feature.

How to implement an effective and secure authentication method

The security and effectiveness of an authentication method is not only through technical aspects but also through usability. Here are some tips to set up a great system:

– Consider the type of service you offer and the information you have to protect: Not every company needs an elaborate authentication system, just as not every company can be content with just using a username and password.  For example, if you provide financial services, a biometric authentication system is recommended, since you have to deal with sensitive data. Conversely, if you run an e-learning site, a combination of password and username may be ok because you probably don’t deal with private personal information.

– Consider your users’ needs and specificity: A one-size-fits-all approach to authentication does not exist. Different users have different needs and therefore require different types of authentication. For example, customers who are logging in from their home computer may prefer a password-based login system, whereas customers who are on the go may prefer a biometric authentication system to access via smartphone.

– Consider your budget:  Authentication systems can be costly, depending on the type and complexity of the system you choose. Therefore, it is important to consider your budget when selecting an authentication method.

– Prefer a combination of methods: Implementing multiple layers of security is the best practice for any authentication process. A good starting point is using a username/password combination along with two-factor authentication. This way, you can protect against both knowledge and possession attacks.

– Ensure secure data storage: You must be sure that the data collected for authentication is stored securely, with a high degree of encryption.

– Make sure that your authentication system is compliant with all applicable regulations, such as GDPR.

– Make sure the authentication process is user-friendly: Your methods of authentication should be easy to understand and use so users can perform the necessary steps quickly and easily. This is important not only for customer satisfaction but also to ensure greater security. In fact, a complex method could lead to customers making mistakes or sharing their personal information with others seeking help, putting their privacy at risk.

– Educate users about security: You need to educate your users about good security practices that will help protect their data and accounts. This includes teaching them how to create secure passwords and having access to a secure way of resetting their passwords in case they forget them. , as well as reminding them not to share or reuse passwords across different services.

– Train your staff:  Employees must be trained on how to use the authentication system properly so they can identify suspicious activities or unauthorized attempts at access.

– Monitor user behavior: Keep an eye on user activities to detect any suspicious or anomalous behavior. This can help prevent potential attacks from malicious actors. You can also leverage advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which can help detect fraud more quickly and accurately, eliminating false positives and improving the overall accuracy of authentication systems.

– Stay up to date: Authentication systems must be regularly updated with new features and security patches to remain effective against advanced attacks.

– Regularly review security protocols: Make sure to regularly review your security protocols to ensure they are up to date with the latest regulations and technology advancements. This will help you stay compliant with changing regulations, protect you from legal action, and keep your authentication system up to date with the latest security measures.

Articolo precedenteProcessing personal data: the Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework
Articolo successivoHow to manage identity verification in digital onboarding