Password, shmassword: The rise of authentication
January 23, 2014

As many corporate decision makers have started to learn the hard way, privacy issues can no longer be mitigated by simple passwords, as hackers and other threatening parties continue to thwart even stronger practices of device owners and businesses. With a perpetually rising number and frequency of breaches plaguing the private sector, experts are urging organizations to more proactively adopt and deploy multi-factor authentication solutions and protocols. 

If news stories related to high-profile breaches have indicated nothing else, it is overwhelmingly clear that the rules of security and privacy protection have changed dramatically amid the strengthening practices of hackers. However, companies that choose to be more aggressive in their access management protocols can stay above water and proactively avoid the challenges of privacy failures and data exposure. 

Authentication for the win
ZDNet recently argued that authentication is quickly and concretely antiquating traditional password management protocols, especially as more companies begin to launch BYOD strategies that lead to a greater diversity of applications and devices. Studies indicate that a lack of proper password management is one of the leading causes of breach, especially as many device users tend to use one password for months at a time without making any changes. 

According to the news provider, authentication was one of the hottest topics of discussion at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, with some of the best and brightest in the technology industry announcing the launch of new products that will bolster authentication processes. Business leaders often wait too long to make the necessary adjustments to their access control policies, leading to exposure and breaches that are often too much to overcome, especially for smaller firms. 

The Ponemon Institute released a study in 2010 that found the average cost of a compromised record is $214, while a typical breach would lead to incurred financial losses of up to $7.2 million. The majority of companies in North America and abroad do not have enough flexibility in their budgets to handle this type of loss, and larger enterprises that might have more wiggle room in these matters tend to experience greater financial hardships. 

ZDNet explained that some of the more renowned researchers who attended the Consumer Electronics Show listed some of their views related to the slow adoption of authentication despite all practical reasoning that it is the best way to go in terms of privacy protection. For example, Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst J.P. Gownder explained the rise of wearable devices and the associated authentication practices. 

"Authentication sounds like a yawn, right?" he stated, according to the source. "Imagine doing away with wallets, house keys, passwords, and toll-booth devices. If Wearables 1.0 was about creating technologies, Wearables 2.0 is all about crafting rich business models."

Twice the protection
PC Magazine recently argued that two-factor authentication is undoubtedly the most effective access management process in the market today, and that even strong password utilization cannot compete with these new capabilities. This has been evident in the deployments and innovations of some of the most advanced device manufacturers in the world today. 

For example, Apple's latest iteration of the widely popular iPhone included a fingerprint sensor that maximizes the protection of the device itself. According to the source, fingerprint and other biometric authentication is stepping up as a helpful utility in multi-factor access controls, and will likely solidify certain devices that come with these features as preferred technology among businesses in the near future. 

Even if an organization does not take the BYOD approach to mobility, multi-factor authentication is critical to ensure the integrity of networks, systems and data.