It’s Time to Retire Passwords and Improve Security
In 2023, the average person must memorize or securely store between seventy and eighty passwords. This is certainly a lot of information to remember, making it clear why many people reuse passwords or create simple, easy to recall passwords for their online accounts. Passwords continue to represent the weak link in online security. It’s time to ditch the passwords in favor of something more secure. There are options beyond traditional username & password combinations to increase online security. In today’s post we explore some effective alternatives to remembered passwords. We also provide a glimpse into what is next, after passwords.
Employ a Password Manager
A password manager is a software tool that generates, stores, and manages all your passwords securely. In addition, a password manager includes tools that analyze the strength and security of existing passwords. They show weak, reused, or compromised passwords and provide an easier method to update them with stronger alternatives.
Password managers generate strong, unique passwords for each online account and remember the login, password and associated website. This means that you, as a human being, no longer need to remember the passwords, making it much easier to create them in a super complex manner. With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password to access all your other passwords. Password managers automatically fill in login credentials, saving time and effort, especially when there are many accounts across various websites and applications. This feature streamlines the login process and cuts the hassle of typing passwords manually.
Password managers typically encrypt your passwords and store them in a secure vault. The encryption ensures that even if the password vault is compromised, the stored passwords are still protected and unreadable without the master password. A good password manager synchronizes across multiple devices and platforms, allowing access to passwords from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. This ensures that passwords are always accessible and up to date, regardless of the device you're using.
Some password managers offer secure methods to share passwords with trusted individuals, such as family members or colleagues. This enables you to share sensitive login information without resorting to insecure communication channels like email or messaging apps.
Password managers help defend against phishing attacks by automatically filling in login credentials only on verified websites. This prevents from mistakenly entering credentials on fraudulent or malicious sites that aim to steal information.
Adopt Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA), 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring two different forms of verification before granting access. Two-factor authentication significantly enhances the security of online accounts. Even if someone obtains your password, they still need the second factor (typically a unique code or push to a mobile phone) to gain access.
This makes it much more difficult for unauthorized individuals to breach an account. 2FA mitigates the risks associated with password-related attacks such as brute force attacks, password guessing, or credential stuffing.
Phishing attacks try to trick users into divulging their passwords by impersonating legitimate websites or services. Two-factor authentication can also help protect against these attacks because the attacker would also need access to the second factor, which they are unlikely to have. Even if you accidentally enter your password on a phishing site, your account stays secure with the added layer of authentication. Using two-factor authentication requires an extra step to login, but it offers peace of mind, knowing that accounts are better protected against unauthorized access. It reduces the likelihood of falling victim to hacking and helps safeguard your sensitive information, personal data, and online identity.
Many organizations, including small and medium-sized businesses, are adopting 2FA. By doing so, an organization aligns with industry best practices and shows a commitment to online security.
Two factor authentication methods can vary, including SMS-based codes, authentication apps, hardware tokens, or biometric factors like fingerprint or facial recognition. It's generally advisable to use app-based or hardware-based authentication methods. The site 2FA Directory is a is a non-profit organization registered in Sweden with members across the globe. The site supplies independent information on the myriad of services that support MFA/2FA under many categories.
Beyond Passwords and the Dawn of Passkeys
A passkey is a new form of authentication that supplies a highly secure and convenient way to access online accounts. They are digital credentials used to authenticate on a website or application. It avoids the use of a password altogether. Although only a limited number of websites have adopted passkeys thus far, it is gaining speed. Using a passkey instead of a traditional password has several benefits.
Passkeys typically rely on asymmetric cryptography, which offers stronger security than traditional passwords. With a passkey, the private key stays securely stored on the device, while the public key is used for authentication. This cryptographic approach makes it harder for attackers to guess or crack the passkey. Passkeys are resistant to phishing attacks because they require a device-specific interaction. Unlike passwords that are easily phished or intercepted, passkeys involve biometric authentication (e.g., fingerprint or facial recognition) or possession of a physical device like a security key. This makes it significantly more challenging for attackers to trick users into revealing their passkeys.
Passkeys can offer a more convenient and user-friendly authentication experience. For example, with biometric passkeys, anyone can authenticate simply by scanning their fingerprint or face, ending the need to remember and type a password. This streamlines the authentication process and reduces the risk of password-related issues, such as forgotten passwords or password reuse.
Since passkeys are device-specific and often require physical possession or biometric verification, they are less susceptible to credential theft or reuse. Even if an attacker gains access to your passkey-protected account, they would still need to have physical access to your device or biometric information to authenticate successfully.
Passkeys are a key part of “passwordless” authentication methods. By dropping the need for passwords altogether, “passwordless” solutions remove the vulnerabilities associated with password-based authentication, such as weak or reused passwords. Passkeys, combined with biometric or possession factors, supply a more secure and user-friendly alternative. While passkeys offer several advantages, it's important to understand the security of the device or method used to store and authenticate the passkey. Proper device security, such as strong device encryption and protection against physical tampering, is crucial to keep the integrity of the passkey system.
Roark Tech Services offers expert cybersecurity advice. We supply a full range of safeguards to protect small businesses. If your business is questioning the right time to address security concerns and which direction to move in, call us to understand how we can help your business maximize technology and productivity with a safe and managed approach. We offer white-glove, personalized technology services and support. Roark Tech Services is an expert in fit-for-purpose technology solutions exclusively for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. Always consult with us first. If you don’t have an IT Partner that you can trust to give you the right support and advice, we’d love to help. Contact us.