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Why Biometric Authentication Adoption Matters to Your Business

Findings: The Forrester Wave: Privileged Identity Management (PIM), Q4 2020

Why Biometric Authentication Adoption Matters to Your Business

Why does biometric authentication adoption matters to your business? Why does your enterprise need to stop relying on password and start utilizing biometrics? 

Enterprises continue to express reluctance about moving on from password-based, single-factor authentication. Often, they believe their employees won’t accept it or believe biometrics only adds complexity to their environments. 

Yet neither premise actually proves true when thoroughly examined. Indeed, enterprises may be sabotaging the optimal performance of their identity security through their misguided attempts.  

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To combat misinformation and make your enterprise more secure, we answer your questions and more below!  

Why Biometric Authentication Adoption Matters to Your Business

What Happens When Authentication Fails? 

Before we can dive into the clear benefits of biometric authentication adoption, we must clarify the dangers of failure. After all, how can you find the solution if you don’t understand the problem?  

Unfortunately, penetrating the network and circumventing your authentication represents only the first step for hackers. Once inside with legitimate credentials, the damage hackers can wreak on your IT environment proves incalculable. 

For example, hackers could use a false login to steal data or finances directly from your business. As another example, they could also use your business for an island-hopping attack, plant a dwelling threat, or even destroy your business processes. They could input disruptive workflow changes or even destroy your IT environment.

Finally, you need to understand that most cyberattacks and data breaches begin with a subverted authentication procedure. This applies doubly to privileged access accounts; in fact, these can do even more damage than a regular user account in the wrong hands. 

So the consequences for failing to protect your authentication protocols seem obvious. How does this translate to a need for biometric authentication adoption? 

Why Passwords Don’t Work  

The need for biometric authentication adoption builds on a simple yet ignored foundation: passwords don’t work. 

Let’s go through the reasons why. Usually, hackers have access to tools allowing them to guess or crack employee passwords. Plenty of malicious vendors on the Dark Web sell tools which can quickly decipher passwords—often for cheap.

Of course, hackers can also deploy social engineering campaigns and use social media information to guess users’ passwords. At worst, threat actors can simply input entries in the list of the worst passwords until they get a match. 

That’s not idle speculation either. Employees tend to make incredibly poor authentication choices.  According to SplashData, nearly 10% of users chose passwords identified as one of the 25 worst. Rachael Stockton of LogMeIn found well over half of users repeat their stolen passwords.

In fact, repeated passwords tend to do the most damage to enterprise cybersecurity. Hackers often compile and sell lists of previously compromised credentials, allowing others to run credential stuffing attacks. Credential stuffing attacks allow threat actors to brute-force their way past single-factor authentication schemes by inputting thousands of possible passwords in rapid succession.

At the same time, it’s hard to blame employees for repeating their passwords. According to Julia O’Toole of Mycena, the average user must remember anywhere between 80 and over 90 passwords. Similarly, Dashlane estimates the average to exceed 150—well beyond what enterprises can reasonably expect employees to remember.

Finally, your enterprise must deal with the prospect of shared passwords or employees outright writing down their credentials. Both can lead to a severe risk of insider threats in your enterprise. 

What are the Immediate Benefits of Biometric Authentication Adoption? 

First, you get to use biometrics in your authentication. Unlike passwords, employees cannot “forget” their biometric factors (they usually prove quite attached to them). Second, because biometric factors are inherently unique, hackers struggle to replicate them for fraudulent logins. Finally, because most employees now have mobile devices with biometric authentication, they often find biometrics easier than passwords. 

In fact, your enterprise can use employee’s mobile devices as hard tokens for their authentication and use the biometrics as another factor. Thus you gain the benefits of a two-factor authentication system automatically—increasing both security and convenience. 

Additionally, another way to deploy biometric authentication comes in the form of behavioral biometrics. These monitor your employees’ and users’ actions on the network—even their typing patterns—to ensure their authenticity. In turn, this allows for more continuous authentication rather than just accepting them at the door. 

While convenience cannot dictate your identity security posture, it can and should influence how you deploy your strategy. Employees buying into your schemes always ends up strengthening it; the opposite also holds true when employees choose to work around it. So this should make biometric authentication adoption a much easier choice than previously. 

However, nothing in cybersecurity ever proves so simple. You can’t treat biometrics as a panacea. If anything, they should become a part of a much larger identity management strategy.

Biometrics as Part of Multifactor Authentication

We said above biometrics allow your enterprise to easily embrace two-factor authentication through employee’s mobile devices. While two factor is certainly stronger than single-factor authentication, it may not provide the cybersecurity strength you need. Hackers can absolutely break through a two-factor authentication system. 

Instead, use your biometric authentication adoption as a stepping stone to multifactor authentication. Sure, hackers can try to break through a multifactor authentication system, but to do so takes time and resources most hackers don’t have. Additionally, hackers usually prefer to go after easier, less secure targets. Every factor you implement as a barrier to access creates another layer of identity security. 

Furthermore, much like biometric authentication, multifactor authentication doesn’t have to mean inconvenient. Many key factors such as geofencing and time of access request monitoring occur in the background without interfering with the user experience. 

So you can consider biometric authentication adoption as changing the first step in your identity management protocols. By taking every step possible in securing your enterprise, you actually fortify your business processes and bottom line. That’s worth the risks and the potential challenges every time. 

To learn more about biometric authentication adoption, check out our 2019 Buyer’s Guide. We cover the top solution providers and their key capabilities in detail, plus our own Bottom Line.

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