Passwords tend to be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about cybersecurity. After all, they’ve long played a central role in keeping our data safe. However, the rise of eCommerce and digital platforms is changing the way businesses interact with their customers and the ways employees interact with one another. More often than not, passwords end up being a barrier to productivity, while weak login credentials are like an open door for cybercriminals.

The problem with passwords

By far the biggest problem with passwords is their susceptibility to cybercrime. Weak password management makes many organizations vulnerable to hackers who can simply guess their way into accounts or use special brute force software that tries every conceivable password combination. More often, however, cybercriminals use social engineering attacks to trick employees into surrendering login details that are too difficult to crack.

Many people use weak passwords because these are easy to remember, but that also makes hacking or guessing them a piece of cake. On the other hand, long and complex passwords can get in the way of user experiences. Asking customers to enter complex login details every time they log in to an app or access a service can turn them off. Meanwhile, employees can easily forget complicated passwords, forcing them to request for a password reset frequently.

Because of these password limitations, companies are losing huge amounts of time and money. It’s time to do something about it, especially in the era of remote work and where people demand a seamless user experience.

What can you use in place of passwords?

The future of user authentication systems lies in technologies that keep unauthorized users out while offering a seamless experience to authorized users, be they customers or employees. There are now many other authentication methods available, most of which can’t be easily exploited by common threats like phishing scams. For example, biometrics let users log in using fingerprints or facial recognition. Windows 10 lets users create picture passwords, which replaces traditional passwords with a set of taps or gestures on a picture. Other methods include single-use verification codes sent via SMS, email, or even a dedicated security dongle.

The importance of multifactor authentication

Any system that contains sensitive information, such as payment details, should be protected by at least two verification layers. Naturally, this approach adds complexity, but it’s essential in many cases. In a typical multifactor authentication (MFA) setup, users only need to enter their username and password, but if they’re accessing the account from an unfamiliar location or device, they may be asked to verify their identities with a one-time security token.

MFA usually works in conjunction with usernames and passwords, but it might also incorporate two non-password authentication methods, such as an SMS verification code and a fingerprint scan. While MFA adds an extra step to the login process, it is a very practical security measure when combined with single sign-on (SSO). SSO offers a convenient way for users to access several connected yet separate systems with a single set of strong login credentials.

Midwest Data Iowa can give your organization cutting-edge security that protects your data without getting in the way of employee productivity. Call today to schedule your first consultation.