How to Truly Secure Your Online Accounts — Going Beyond Password Protection
The top 4 ways to strengthen your online security now
As evidenced by our last post about the current state of digital security, password protection is no longer a viable one-stop solution for securing digital accounts. Any digital transactions can be vulnerable to attacks, and the quickest way to be targeted by hackers is to use passwords as your only line of defense.
So what are some solutions available today? Thankfully, the immense number of online attacks has led to the development of new technologies that can effectively protect digital accounts from malicious attacks. Through password managers, 2FA, U2F or biometric authentication, users can dramatically decrease their chances of suffering from online attacks.
Password Manager & Generator
Passwords can be effective when used correctly, especially for accounts that don’t contain particularly sensitive personal information. But because of how inconvenient it can be to re-access an account with a forgotten password, many resort to using weak passwords that contain a string of numbers or easy to guess phrases. Combined with the frequent use of the same password for different accounts, the risk of an account getting hacked into becomes extremely high. (For some stats on password usage, please refer to our last Medium post here.)
Password managers are a great tool to heighten the security level of password protection. They not only provide an easy-to-access storage solution for passwords, but they also encourage the use of stronger (and harder to guess) password combinations. Conveniently, they often come with the function to generate random passwords for its users. With the ability to auto-fill passwords for its users through a simple plug-in, password managers provide a generally safe and extremely easy to implement solution for maximizing the potential of password security. However, storing passwords under one account on a password manager does provide a single point of failure and could potentially cause the user to lose access to all of their connected accounts.
Two-Factor Authentication (sometimes also referred to as multi-factor authentication) is an authentication method that requires more than one step of authentication in order to confirm someone’s identity. This is most often seen in the form of: SMS messages where the platform will send a text message with a one time code to confirm someone’s identity, or Google Authenticator, an app through which generated codes are displayed on a mobile device. The user then can enter the one time code onto the platform to access their account.
This adds a separate layer of security to password protection, making it much harder for attackers to gain access to an account because in addition to gaining a user’s password, they would also have to be in possession of or hack into the user’s phone. This is one of the most accessible digital security tools, available to be turned on automatically on most widely-used platforms today. Despite its common usage though, this method is not always dependable since mobile device can be hacked into relatively easily and the user could still lose access to their accounts.
U2F, or Universal 2nd Factor is a method commonly used by enterprises but less by individuals because of the cost and system requirements. It is a form of two-factor authentication that uses specialized USB or NFC (near-field communications) devices to authenticate identities through being connected to a computer and the user pressing a button. The device communicates with the computer to provide authentication and access directly without any additional steps.
By using an external device whose sole purpose is to confirm its user’s identity, U2F provides a solution with enhanced protection that doesn’t come with the risk of having a mobile device that could be hacked digitally. This combines the low effort of keeping an external device and the high security that comes with using a device that is not otherwise connected to the mobile network. This is a great option although it is the least accessible of the 4 methods mentioned here due to the need to purchase an external device and the lack of systems that employ U2F.
Biometric authentication, usually achieved through fingerprint scan or facial recognition software, is quickly becoming a preferred method of authentication. While it’s a method that has historically been restricted to only highly secure institutions, biometric authentication has slowly become more and more accessible with its inclusion into mass-produced smartphones today.
The biggest benefit of using biometric data is that it is considerably harder to steal or copy than a password or a physical device. With the increased convenience of having this technology readily integrated into our phones, this powerful security tool is now more accessible than ever. Even though its introduction to the general public is still relatively recent, this technology has proven to be extremely user-friendly and secure with promising potentials.
BidiPass was created to offer a truly secure identity authentication solution that does not compromise on the user experience. While each method has its strengths and weaknesses, we believe that combining the immutability of blockchain technology with the reliability and accessibility of biometric data is the future of digital security.
For an a more detailed overview of BidiPass, you can read our recent blog post “What is BidiPass?”.
To read more about our proprietary technology, visit our website here.