Rethinking Password Policies: Alternatives to Traditional Passwords
Rethinking Password Policies: Alternatives to Traditional Passwords
We are witnesses to today’s accelerated time, and of a state that is constantly improving and upgrading - especially in terms of technology.
And, as technology advances at an unprecedented pace, it’s crucial to say something about safeguarding our digital assets. It has become a necessity, and we are all aware of the potential dangers of hackers.
However, traditional password policies have proven outdated and easily hackable.
But in light of this issue, alternative methods are emerging as game-changers in the cybersecurity world.
This is why we need to stay updated and discover new approaches to how can we secure our online presence and protect ourselves against identity theft.
Using different security techniques and exploring various options, can bring a lot of safety in the digital world - including your home and your workplace.
Let’s hear about the traditional password policies
As it’s already known, traditional password policies require users to create a new password every few months, using a mix of letters and numbers. And don’t forget - do not use easily guessed words like '12345' or 'password'.
These policies are mainly designed to make passwords more secure, but from experience - we all know they can be difficult to remember and follow.
Imagine if you are the chief technical officer or in human resources in your company, and you have to think about privacy laws and regulations.
Well, you also have to think about the GDPR employee data, and how to make everything more secure and constantly learn about the possible alternatives - especially in passwords.
Well, there are a few advantages to traditional password policies. It’s very simple - they can prevent people from using easily suggested passwords
Also, it can encourage people to use stronger passwords that are more difficult for hackers to breach. And, in a way - they can force people to change their passwords regularly - which can limit the possible damage.
What are the cons of traditional password policies?
As we already said, some of the drawbacks of traditional password policies can be that they are hard to remember.
Let’s say if person is using dozens of different passwords for all the different websites they use, this is a good example of a flaw in traditional policies.
You wonder why? Well, it’s because it can lead people to write down their passwords - storing them in insecure locations, or more expectedly - using the same password for multiple sites - and this is not recommended.
There’s another downside to requiring regular password changes because it can do you more harm than good. For example, if someone accidentally types in their old password, instead of the new one - they can be locked out of their account.
And frequent password changes can lead to weak passwords because we are all prone to choose something easy to remember.
Everything is fast-paced, and so is the technology being developed by many companies all over the world.
That said, there are many security alternatives to passwords being implemented and some of them include:
But what are those? Well, biometrics is the use of physical or behavioral traits to identify an individual. This is mostly done through fingerprints, iris scanning, voice recognition - or even DNA. Just like in the James Bonds movies.
Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that requires you as a user, to input both something you know (for example, a password) and something you have (such as a code from a text message).
Device fingerprinting is a method of identifying devices based on their unique characteristics, let’s say an IP address, installed fonts, or browser type.
We can say that each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, but if you put them together you can see they provide a much more secure system.
With the increasing prevalence of data breaches every day, it’s clear that we need to reevaluate our approach to security. This can come in handy especially if you need to learn how to block bots from your website.
We can’t rely solely on passwords, and that’s why these alternative methods are a step in the right direction.
Examples of alternative security techniques
There are a number of alternative security techniques that are gaining popularity as traditional password policies slowly go into the past with their ineffectiveness.
Let’s expand them into several examples.
As we already mention, two-factor authentication (2FA) is one of them, and it's being adopted by a growing number of organizations and businesses.
2FA requires users to not only enter a username and password, but it also provides a second form of authentication - such as a fingerprint, or a code from a physical token.
There is also a security technique that’s gaining a lot of traction, and it’s called multi-factor authentication (MFA). But, unlike 2FA, MFA requires users to provide multiple forms of authentication, typically three or even more.
This can include passwords, fingerprints, code from a physical token, and answering personal questions. MFA is definitely more effective than 2FA in preventing unauthorized access, as it makes it much harder for cybercriminals to breach their way into an account.
Businesses and organizations are also beginning to adopt context-based authentication, which takes into account several factors such as the user’s location and device when determining whether or not to grant access.
Let’s say, if someone is trying to log into their corporate account from an unfamiliar IP address, they may be required to provide additional verification before being granted access.
This type of authentication can be combined with other techniques like 2FA and MFA for even greater protection.
Biometrics are often touted as the answer to many security woes, but are they really? Let’s delve into it and take a closer look.
Most biometric systems rely on some sort of physical characteristic that can be measured and compared to a stored template. As we already mentioned above, it can include things like fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans.
But there are two problems with this approach. The thing is, it’s possible to spoof some biometric systems. For example, fingerprint scanners can be tricked with something as simple as a mold of the user's finger.
The other problem is, even if the biometric system is not spoofed - there is still the issue of privacy. Collecting and storing detailed information about people’s physical features raises all sorts of questions and red flags for many people.
Despite these concerns, biometrics are still being used more and more for security purposes. Even though biometrics may not be the perfect solution to all our security problems - they are certainly changing the landscape of how we can protect our information.
Are there any benefits of biometrics?
Of course, there are! As we can conclude from the above, biometric data is much more difficult to fake than a password. This means that if you implement a biometrics-based authentication system, it will be much more secure than one that relies on passwords alone.
Also, there is convenience, because let’s face it - remembering multiple complex passwords is a pain. With biometrics, all you need to do is present your fingerprint or scan your iris and you are good to go.
This is probably a major convenience factor, especially for people who have to log into multiple systems on a daily basis.
We can say the perk of biometrics is a preventative measure against theft. For example, if someone steals your password, they can gain access to your accounts and wreak havoc.
However, if they steal your biometric data (e.g., by cutting off your finger), they won’t be able to use it to authenticate themselves since it’s unique to you.
Cyberthreats are evolving, but so are security protocols
Why is rethinking password policies necessary? Well, it’s because alternative password policies are allowing businesses to meet the challenge with more secure authentication practices that protect against malicious activity.
In return, increased assurance of data safety is leading to a better customer experience when interacting online, paving the way for an improved digital landscape.
We can be sure that as new threats and solutions emerge, credible companies will continue to stay updated and informed with these trends in order to provide meaningful levels of protection.
Adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity should remain a priority for all organizations, both public and private.