When was the last time you had to click “forgot password”? It’s a common occurrence for many of us. That’s where passwordless logins enter the scene – they aim to make our digital lives easier and potentially safer.
But what exactly are they, and are they more secure than traditional passwords?
Understanding passwordless logins
Passwordless logins are exactly what they sound like – a method of verifying your identity and logging you into a system without the need for a traditional password.
There are a few ways this can happen: a unique code or link via email or text message, or biometric technology (fingerprint or face recognition on your smartphone). There are even physical devices (key fobs or cards) and software applications that generate one-time passcodes.
All these are forms of passwordless logins, designed with the aim of not just streamlining your login experience, but also potentially enhancing the security of your digital platforms.
The security aspect of passwordless logins
Passwords are the original first line of defence, but they have their vulnerabilities. Weak passwords, reused passwords, password phishing – these are all issues that passwordless logins seek to address. By eliminating the need for a user to enter a static password, passwordless logins reduce the risk of password-related attacks.
However, it’s essential to remember that no security system is entirely foolproof. Passwordless logins can have their own potential security risks. For example, if a malicious actor gains access to the device used for authentication (like your phone), they may gain unauthorised access.
Comparing password and passwordless logins
So, how do traditional passwords and passwordless logins measure up against each other?
Traditional password-based logins are tried and tested. We’re familiar with them, and when used with good practices, like strong passwords that are regularly changed and multi-factor authentication (MFA), they provide a reasonable level of security.
On the other hand, they also come with well-known problems – password fatigue, the risk of phishing, and the tendency of users to create weak or repetitive passwords. Stolen login credentials present all manner of problems, from losing account access and delays in the business operations, to data theft and severe cyber incidents.
Passwordless logins, on the other hand, come with a key advantage: they eliminate many password-related vulnerabilities. With no static password to steal or guess, attackers have fewer opportunities. Plus, they offer a streamlined user experience, making life easier for your employees or users.
But passwordless methods do have potential weaknesses. As mentioned, if the authentication relies on a device, such as a smartphone or a hardware token, losing the device means losing the ability to authenticate until it’s replaced. With email or SMS authentication, a compromised email account or SIM-swapped phone number can provide an attacker with the required codes.
Another thing to consider is that some of your users might find it hard to adapt to new technology, and may face difficulties in accessing their accounts if their preferred method of authentication is unavailable.
Evaluating if passwordless logins are right for your business
Given the pros and cons of passwordless logins, are they right for your business? This decision will depend on a few factors, including your business type, customer needs, and the kind of data you’re protecting.
The goal is to balance security with ease of use. If your business deals with highly sensitive data, you might want to lean towards added security layers, possibly combining passwordless features with other authentication methods. If customer experience is your top priority, a well-implemented passwordless login could be a big win.
Find the secure and user-friendly authentication for your business with expert guidance
Passwordless logins eliminate many password-related vulnerabilities, and for that, they can indeed be considered more secure. But they are not without their own potential security risks. As always, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the world of cyber security.
At Itopia, we believe that every business has unique cyber security needs, and as such, we deliver tailored advice, solutions, and management to ensure your security posture is secure as possible. Talk to our experts about the ins and outs of different login methods, so you can make an informed decision that best suits your business needs.