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  • Writer's pictureRafael Iamonti

Passwordless World: How to reimagine the authentication

Passwords have been one of the main protection factors used on devices and on the internet. But have you ever imagined a passwordless world?

Despite being the most popularized mode of protection, it is a layer of security that has flaws. In addition, we see more and more news about the leaking of information from large organizations and social networks, including passwords.

Thus, it has become a tendency to take up other protective factors that may be even safer.

Here we'll see what are the main problems related to passwords and how major service providers are developing new methods to replace passwords.

When are we going to see a passwordless world?

Speculation of a world without passwords is no longer new. For some time, large technology companies have been investing in safer ways to access and protect accounts and devices.

Technologies such as biometrics, which uses people's physical or behavioral characteristics to identify them, have been increasingly adopted. From facial recognition to digital authorization or voice recognition, many devices already have these security tools.

But still, these technologies face limits. Facial recognition can be hampered in places with too much, or too little, light. Digital identification also suffers from difficulties with humidity, and voice recognition can be more difficult in places with a lot of noise.

How to overcome obstacles and bring alternatives to passwords

To overcome these obstacles, developers seek to combine different authentication methods to replace passwords. But when we talk about systems and applications, there is also the challenge of overcoming passwords.

Even two-factor authentication, which in many cases has become mandatory in new accounts, does not overcome the fragility of passwords. It only applies one more layer of security over a factor considered vulnerable.

You can no longer expect users to use unpredictable and different combinations across all devices and applications. This ends up causing people to forget the combinations and be forced to recover the passwords on each access.

Alternatively, password managers have emerged. They store keys securely and if you use a weak password, or some password has been compromised, this technology offers alternatives and reminders for you to change your security key.

But still, we're talking about methods that aren't able to solve problems related to password vulnerabilities. And how can we overcome the use of passwords? What are the alternatives that major technology producers have offered?

Is it the end of passwords?

Large companies invest a lot of resources to develop password-free methods. Today, Microsoft has taken a step forward into a world without passwords, allowing all accounts to use other methods to prove identity.

In addition to passwords, Microsoft accounts can be accessed by sending a secure code to an alternate email. You can also choose to use an app to confirm your identity, or be identified through biometrics or a PIN.

In addition, the user can also use a physical security key to authenticate their account.

Difference between PIN and password

You might be wondering, what's the difference between a PIN and a password? The main difference is where this information is stored. Passwords are transmitted to servers, and can be intercepted during transmission, or stolen.

The PIN is stored only on the device. That way, it is not stored or transmitted anywhere. Thus, this combination is useless for anyone who does not have the device physically.

What large organizations are doing to create a passwordless world

Today, people use their smartphones to perform most everyday tasks, and password vulnerability also affects people's everyday lives. Leaking bank combinations can compromise most customers.

Even using other types of identifiers, such as tokens, users may still be vulnerable.

Thinking about these challenges, financial services operators seek new alternatives to generate unique digital identities. In this way, users can manage the forms of identification without the need for combinations.

Other companies, such as Apple, have also been presenting alternatives so that passwords are no longer needed on their devices. Betting on tools such as biometrics, they also use two-step checks, which can be resistant to phishing.

Google accounts haven't completely eliminated passwords yet. However, methods have been introduced for two-step verification that also bring more security, allowing you to configure a physical security key, choose to generate backup codes, or use authentication applications.

That way, we see safer alternatives to passwords, which can be stolen, guessed, or even hacked. Still, we see a long way to go, especially when we talk about personal accounts.

On the other hand, all these alternatives still face the challenge of making people aware of safe methods. But it's hard to deny how easy the new methods provide to people, as well as bringing more security.

Credential leaks: major problems for organizations

The amount of data leaks from private and public organizations has been growing considerably. In 2021, the number of data leaked exceeded that of previous years. This has made organizations around the world even more alert about the protection of their information.

With the establishment and entry into force of laws regulating data protection, many organizations may begin to be penalized for leaked information. Thus, investment in the information security sectors has also increased.

In the first quarter of this year, the release of government data from several countries compromised the security of millions of credentials. This was one of the biggest leaks of information in history and experts assess that the information was collected through phishing attacks and other strategies to steal passwords.

In addition, Brazilians were also victims of personal data leaks. Only in the first half, documents, personal records and even bank data were disclosed in leaks related to databases of credit companies.

Reports from specialized companies indicate that the disclosure of credentials has been growing month by month in Brazil. The same reports also state that the use of weak and predictable passwords remains the majority of those identified within the disclosed data.

Worldwide, reports show that criminal activity is increasingly moving towards credential theft, through the use of social engineering techniques to collect information from users.

How to identify passwords that have been exposed in leaks

To deal with these leaks, corporations like Apple and Google have recently enabled functions that demonstrate which passwords may have been exposed. Thus, the user can choose to change the credential that was stored in the browser or mobile phone.

In some cases, the password manager itself can make these changes, from people's permission. Because passwords are administered automatically, the user does not need to remember which combination was established.

Learn how to use all security features

The vulnerability of passwords is still an issue that will be much discussed. However, we see technology moving towards a safer internet. Multi-factor authentication features can prevent accounts with leaked credentials from being hacked.

Still, few people fully enjoy the security features offered. This makes the possibility that a world without passwords is still a few steps away.

However, within the corporate space, large service providers encourage the use of alternative identification methods. In this way, the possibility of organizations relying less and less on passwords is closer than ever.

Make people aware of the risks of passwords

In this way, it is essential to make people aware of the risks associated with passwords to protect themselves from being victims of cyber attacks.

It's not just about protecting credit cards, it's about protecting the privacy of people and organizations.

The use of passwords is also subject to human error, such as forgetting or sharing your information with third-party services or friends if you forget it.

Therefore, people should be aware of the risks of relying on a password-driven system and starting to plan for a future without passwords.

Count on PhishX to help you develop an awareness program that involves simulations, training, communications and gamification.

In the image we see a hand holding a cell phone which indicates that the screen is locked. In the lower left corner is written the text: "World without passwords: how to reimagine authentication".
Passwordless World: How to reimagine the authentication


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