Most Internet users nowadays have likely stumbled upon something called user authentication. This is a way through which websites find out whether someone is truly who they pretend they are. In fact, most websites today use it as a way of checking if the credentials that a user types in match those on a specific server or database.
Most authentication processes use a user ID that the person has to type in, followed by a password that should match. It is important for the user not to let anyone else use their password! However, since many people don’t really know much about user authentication, in this article, we will discuss what you need to know about the topic.
User Authentication and Its Importance in Cybersecurity
User authentication is an extremely important process because it enables websites maintain the security of their networks by only allowing authenticated users access some of their resources. In addition, it is worth noting that there’s a difference between authentication and authorization, even if those terms are usually used interchangeably, in a completely wrong way.
Through user authentication, a website validates the identity of an already-registered user and grants him the permission to access its resources. Meanwhile, authorization is the process through which a website validates that a user has been granted permission to access those resources. Moreover, authentication is always the first one, followed by authorization. In case you want to know more about how these processes work, you should check out the specialized website OnlineLoginGuides, which has a large collection of login guides for various platforms, including Netflix, Udemy, Prodigy, UPS (for employees only), and more.
The Way User Authentication is Used
Most human-to-computer interactions are based on a user authentication process. Usually, human users are required to first type in a valid user ID and a matching password to access a certain system. Most companies use authentication when it comes to allowing users onto their platforms. This way, they are making sure that valuable and confidential information, like credit card or Social Security numbers, don’t fall into the wrong hands.
What’s more, it is crucial to never use the same user ID and password for multiple platforms! Yes, it may be a burden to remember numerous IDs and passwords, but it is the safest thing that you can do. This way, cybercriminals or hackers will never get access to all your accounts once they manage to break into one of them. If you are a webmaster, you should definitely check out this article on how to prevent hacking attempts on your website to stay on the safe side.
About Authentication Factors
The most basic authentication process is the one everybody probably knows about, i.e. a user ID and a password, for which you should always mix capital letters with small letters and also numbers in order to make it stronger. This is also called single-factor authentication.
An authentication factor is, in fact, a piece of data that can be used to authenticate a certain user. Beside the original three factors, more have been proposed over the past few years. So, the most popular authentication factors used today are:
– Knowledge: this consists of pieces of information that only the user knows, like an ID, password, PIN, or even the answers to some secret questions;
– Possession: this factor refers to certain things that a user carries, like a device, mobile phone, or security token;
– Inherence: this refers to who the user is, and it usually has to do with some kind of biometric identification like fingerprinting, retina scans, or facial recognition tech;
– Location: this newer factor is usually used in combination with others. Systems that have GPS or network routes can successfully identify the location of a user. It’s helpful because it can prevent a hacker from breaking into an account simply because his location doesn’t fit the one of the legitimate users;
– Time: the last factor cannot be used on its own, but in combination with other authentication factors. It also prevents hackers from entering a system. For example, if the user was authenticated at 12 pm in the United States, the same user cannot be authenticated one hour later in China.
All in all, it’s important to know everything about user authentication on online platforms because it’s very common nowadays. It is a way to make sure that only authorized users are accessing a certain website, while also protecting their personal data from cybercriminals and hackers. As time passes and technology advances, experts foresee even more complex authentication processes which is why being aware of what it consists of can certainly be useful.