Which one is the Best User Authentication method? | by Hasan Mustafa | CodeX | Oct, 2021

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To help users with this, the answer is quite simple: It depends on the User & System Requirement. The answer might not be satisfactory to all the readers but yes the truth is level of security is applied according to the terms of use. Imagine a person using a smartphone and to unlock his phone, he applies Advanced encrypted methods to unlock it or a Millionaire keeping his account pin 1234.

So, along with the user requirement, User authenticated methods are used so.

For a person using gadgets for personal or basic use, he/she might be using a password, pin, pattern and now even fingerprint and facial recognition if the gadget is capable to do so.

However, for an account verification while either signing up or logging in to perform operations, Bank account, Network system and advanced technologies including the blockchain (channel available: Blockchain.com) the preferred system to validate the user might be an OTP SMS code along with other authentication processes to check through 2-way Authentication or even Multi-Factor Authentication methods.

Try even harder — Unsplash from FLY:D

Well, choosing might seem to work but depending on the features with pros and cons of every method, these might allow you to look more closely regarding every aspect and will give you more ease while selecting it.

To look for a much deeper perspective, let’s scroll what security method you should be using.

Password, Pattern & Pin locks — Google Images

According to idrnd.ai, Passwords are the most common and easy method to use for authentication. Passwords can be in the form of a string of letters, numbers, or special characters. To protect yourself you need to create strong passwords that include a combination of all possible options.

However, passwords are prone to phishing attacks and bad hygiene that weakens effectiveness. An average person has about 25 different online accounts, but only 54% of users use different passwords across their accounts.

The truth is that there are a lot of passwords to remember. As a result, many people choose convenience over security. Most people use simple passwords instead of creating reliable passwords because they are easier to remember.

  1. Improved user experience: Replacing password authentication immediately eliminates the possibility of duplication — and exponentially increases the security of your systems.
  2. Reduced administration overheads: Forgotten passwords are a major overhead (and annoyance!) for your helpdesk. With this, a password allows you to create several passwords and allows you to create while you have forgotten the password.
  3. Improved User experience: To identify the user, the easier you can make the authentication process, the fewer problems your users will encounter — resulting in a flexible and satisfactory experience. This is particularly important for customer-facing applications. A poor logon experience will discourage users and limit your income potential.
  1. Hard to Troubleshoot: One Major issue is Resetting passwords but it’s also relatively straightforward. Mostly the users encounter issues when using passwordless authentication, having no idea how to do it and what to expect. Troubleshooting is even more complicated (and costly) if a user loses their hardware token. Your support team will be expected to provide a workaround until a replacement can be supplied to the user/customer.
  2. Further Security Required: Even with creating long and complex passwords using pins, patterns and passwords, users still needs to have a secondary method in case if they forgot or their product is stolen. As a matter, security questions and linking devices and other methods are applied to provide multi-factor authentication.
Image source: Unsplash

Another advanced and effective method to confirm user identity is to recognize them by their biological traits. These features include fingerprint scan, facial recognition and voice recognition. The fact that these provide ease in the authentication process compared to the other process makes it a more preferable and secure system to use.

Still not clear? See how biometrics are playing a key factor in identity and access validation.

Biometrics in Security Analysis

While being a modern and on-trend way to authenticate user identity, Biometrics have its benefits to offer with certain limitations.

  1. Hard to spoof — biometric identifiers such as fingerprint and retina are unique by definition for each individual. This makes it unique and easy to identify every individual trait in a limited timeframe.
  2. Fast — The prime benefit while using biometric traits like thumbprints and facial recognition allows identifying several people have been analyzed in a small period of time. With its accuracy and highly efficient mechanism, this makes authenticating and other processes load faster.
  3. Secure — The fact that identifying and comparing the facial features from the records makes it more protected and secure with evidence of validating a person by his bio features.
  4. Simple — The process is very easy and feasible to use, with no memorizing like passwords and pin codes as you carry these features along with you everywhere.
  1. Privacy concerns — one of the major issues users have with this method is privacy concerns. Biometric data are stored in a trusted environment, encrypted and inaccessible to regular operating systems.
  2. Costly — The fact that applying mechanisms like the retina, facial and fingerprint recognition or now “voice recognition” is very expensive especially when applying in big organizations.
  3. Data Breaches — Although we have made security more validated and strong, there is a high chance of getting biometrics databases getting leaked and hacked, collapsing the whole security system.
  4. Possible errors — errors including false acceptance and false rejection of an authentication attempt.

Yes, the things we usually possess along with us and are certified by authenticated organizations keeping personal data to ensure security. This authentication system relies on a document format to show the validity of the user and these documents include CNIC, Passport, Nicop, and driver’s license.

Erick Mclean on Unsplash

The certificate contains the digital identity of a user including a public key, and the digital signature of a certification authority. Digital certificates prove the ownership of a public key and are issued only by a certification authority.

Users provide their digital certificates when they sign in to a server. The server verifies the credibility of the digital signature and the certificate authority. The server then uses cryptography to confirm that the user has a correct private key associated with the certificate.

The biggest advantages of certificate-based authentication are privacy-based. By encrypting your communications — emails, logins or online banking transactions — digital certificates protect your private data and prevent the information from being seen by unintended eyes. Digital certificate systems are also user-friendly, usually working automatically and requiring minimal action or involvement from either senders or recipients.

According to Microsoft, the certificate servers are cheaper and easier to manage than other certificate authorities or systems used for encryption.

While the idea of digital certificates is to block outsiders from intercepting your messages, the system is not an infallible one. Since certificate authorities are the ones in charge of issuing digital certificates (think of them as the digital version of a passport office), hackers often target these authorities to manipulate certificate information. As a result, when a certificate authority is compromised, hackers can create websites or send emails that look genuine and pass certification tests0 but are fraudulent.

In 2013, Forbes noted that electronic certificates had become a prime target for hackers and other cybercriminals, given that the information they protect is so valuable. The software requires constant vigilance to protect users from cybercrime.

SMS authentication reference: https://bit.ly/3BpSsgI

This is an easy and flexible method for user validation while sending an SMS code to the User phone and containing an one time password for future online payments.

  1. Simple — Very simple, easy and flexible to use.
  2. Access — In cases to identify suspicious activities, these methods ensure verification of transaction validity by giving the received code.
  3. Applicable — It is an old and updated authentication system at the time as it is used in 2-factor authentication; accepted by users along with security protocols.
  1. Network Requirement — if the customer does not have the phone at that current moment, the OTP might not be received and available to the customer. Along with it, the SMS OTP authentication time process might run out.
  2. Compliance — SMS OTP authentication is not entirely PSD2 compliant, e.g. if a mobile phone is not in possession of its rightful owner, the fraudster can easily receive SMS OTP on the stolen device and process a transaction.

This system is quite familiar while logging into a Google or Facebook account, the system throws some push notifications to address the authentication and login from other sources. The user is able to inspect the details of the authentication attempt and either confirm or deny request verification.

Push notifications — Google images
  1. Simple — Very easy and friendly to use with simple taps through your multi-devices or notifications.
  2. Budget-friendly — It’s a cost-cutting authentication mechanism, with minimizing maintenance tools & hardware cost.
  3. Fraud Protection — By implementation of Dynamic linking, this proves to be efficient in preventing phishing and MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks.
  1. Data access — notifications are sent through data networks, so in order for this method to be applied, the user must have data access.

2. Security issues — The risk factor is that the user might accidentally approve a fraudulent transaction because our habit of automatically approving incoming notifications can make the whole protection vulnerable to hackers.

3. Dependency — Push notification authentication demands having an appropriate mToken application installed on a user’s device, as well as mToken activation.

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QR code, also known as an encrypted code is one of the most advanced and frequently used methods in the world.

  1. Create easily: The Qr Code can be created and generated very easily.
  2. Cost-effective: It’s one of the Cheapest and budget-friendly ways to advertise.QR codes are a simple means to direct an audience to more information about a product, service or promotion while ensuring you don’t waste valuable print space on unnecessary details.
  3. Easy to Analyze: Easy way to track audience engagement.You can assign and track any number of QR codes based on your specific objectives.
  4. Integration: The fact that Qr code seems more preferable is that it provides seamless integration with mobile devices. By snapping an image of a QR code using their mobile device, consumers can quickly find out more about your business, product or service, without making the extra effort.
  • May confuse some customers
  • The addition of landing pages may be unnecessary for some businesses
  • Other modes of communication may be more beneficial

This might seem new to a lot of people but to give a clear concept in easy words, according to optimalidm.com, Behavioral biometric authentication identifies a person based on unique patterns exhibited when they interact with a device such as a tablet, smartphone or computer (including mouse and keyboard). … These patterns are analyzed in terms of writing pace, cognitive way of interacting with devices and your responses by checking & going through different choices allow for a true frictionless authentication that is passive, or less invasive, for the user.

  1. High security and assurance — Biometric identification provides the answers to “something a person has and is” and helps verify identity
  2. User Experience — Convenient and fast
  3. Non-transferrable — Everyone has access to a unique set of biometrics
  4. Spoof-proof — Biometrics are hard to fake or steal
  1. Costs — Significant investment needed in biometrics for security
  2. Data breaches — Biometric databases can still be hacked
  3. Tracking and data — Biometric devices like facial recognition systems can limit privacy for users
  4. Bias — Machine learning and algorithms must be very advanced to minimize biometric demographic bias
  5. False positives and inaccuracy — False rejects and false accepts can still occur preventing select users from accessing systems

To check further information, check the links at the end of the article.

Multi-factor authentication means protecting your account with two or more different types of authorization methods. There are certain ways to create enhanced security which can be classified as:

  • Something you know: This includes a piece of information, like a password or security question, pattern or pin.
  • Something you have: For example, passport, National ID card, your smartphone or another physical device.
  • Something you are: A factor unique to your body, such as your fingerprint or iris, voice etc.

True two-factor authentication means you must unlock two checks from different factors before you can log in. If your account is protected by two locks of the same factor, this is called two-step authentication.

For example, a password and security question is both something you know, making this kind of authentication two-step but not two-factor. This still provides better protection than a password alone, but proper two-factor authentication is preferable.