What three authentication myths should you avoid in your identity and access management (IAM) policies?
Unfortunately, there is as much misinformation as beneficial information out there on cybersecurity, authentication, and identity management. Oftentimes, perceived notions or bad information can affect your decisions and end up weakening your digital perimeter.
Here we examine three authentication myths and where the truth really lies.
3 Authentication Myths to Avoid In Your IAM
1. Strong Authentication Prevents All Attacks
It is no secret that passwords and single-factor authentication don’t offer strong protection against hackers. In fact, hackers have multiple avenues to subvert or otherwise mitigate the effectiveness of passwords as a security tool. For example, hackers could simply purchase a password-cracking tool from the Dark Web. Alternatively, they could use a spear-phishing attack to coerce victims into giving up their passwords. Also, they could just guess a user’s password, using data gleaned from social media or just guessing a commonly used weak password.
Therefore, enterprises deploy stronger authentication policies, often focusing on two-factor (2FA) or multifactor (MFA) strategies. On the one hand, this does help businesses secure their users and their databases; the more factors between the access request and the database, the more hackers end up deterred, choosing to find easier targets.
On the other hand, no authentication policy can 100 percent deflect or deter attacks. While hackers may face an uphill battle to subvert all of your authentication factors, they can do so with enough time and resources.
Thus your business must prepare itself with incident response plans as another layer of cybersecurity. While solutions can seriously improve your security posture, you and your workforce must become involved in it as well for optimal performance. You need to shake off this most persistent of authentication myths.
2. Authentication Begins and Ends at the Login Stage
Here we see an authentication myth that continues to run unchecked through enterprises. Most IT decision-makers, and indeed most employees, consider authentication as purely a tool of the login stage. In other words, one a user enters the network, authentication ends.
As we saw above, this is a dangerous mindset to bring into your identity management policy. If a hacker does slip past your login portal, then it could inflict damage to your bottom line and your reputation unchallenged. Moreover, this type of authentication doesn’t account for insider threats, who by their nature can pass through login without triggering an alarm.
Instead, you need to deploy continuous authentication across your entire network. In this model, every user remains under close observation while they operate in the network; their behaviors (gleaned through behavioral biometrics) are constantly compared to a baseline. Any aberration or suspicious behavior triggers an immediate investigation and possible remediation actions.
3. Strong Authentication Means More Friction
Many IT decision-makers stick with single-factor authentication because they know it; familiarity breeds comfort, after all. However, this supposed comfort is also predicated on the idea that passwords are convenient and provide a frictionless experience for users. In contrast, many IT decision-makers believe that multifactor authentication increases the friction of the login process.
Some decision-makers embrace the idea of friction as a byproduct of security. Others avoid it for the exact same reason. Yet security does not equate friction.
In fact, multifactor authentication’s individual factors can operate passively and behind the average login and workflow. For example, geofencing and time of access request monitoring can help evaluate the validity of a user while not requiring active inputs. On the continuous authentication front, behavioral biometrics simply monitors users as they work, using that data as verification.
How to Learn More About Authentication Myths
To dispel preconceived notions about authentication, check out the Identity Management Buyer’s Guide. We cover the top solution providers and key capabilities in depth.
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