Internet penetration is growing day by day across every corner of the world.
With that, the digital population is ever-increasing.
And as a result, we are witnessing massive growth in account creation across several websites.
With such huge numbers, comes greater responsibility.
Keeping these accounts safe from hackers.
Today, we're going to talk about a technology that can safeguard your accounts.
👉 Why do most accounts get hacked easily?
👉 What is an authenticator? Do we really need it? 👉 What is the history of authenticators?
👉 What is the future of Multi-Factor authentication?
In this article, we're going to answer these questions alongside tips on how you can improve your internet safety. Without further ado, let's begin uncovering the world of authentication!
Why do most accounts get hacked easily?
The weakest link in any cybersecurity system - is humans.
But don't hackers use complicated systems to hack into major companies or government systems? Well, yes and no.
Cyberwarfare is constantly being fought across and within borders.
But the common attacks are much less dramatic and don't require sophisticated software.
The reel scenes majorly differ from real-life hacking.
So, what are the statistics saying?
That humans don't take cybersecurity as seriously as they should.
Do you know the most common password for 2021? It was - "password" and it takes hackers less than one second to crack. (SOURCE)
You thought this was bad?
We have even more concerning news for you.
As per a survey, 65% of users utilize the same password or its variation across different websites. (SOURCE)
And it gets worse. The survey also found that a person may average around 50 online accounts.
Put all these statistics together and you have a nightmare in the making.
If you combine this with not enabling authentication.
Then you might as well hand over your password to the hackers.
However, the dynamics change when the authenticator comes into the picture
So, let's talk about it!
What is an authenticator? Do we really need it?
Firstly, let's delve into what authenticators are.
They are a multi-step verification process to confirm your identity.
What if we tell you that you've most probably used it?
Let's say you enter your password on a website or app.
Sometimes, they ask you to enter a code texted to your phone number.
Or they may tell you to enter the number as seen on the screen.
Well, that's it, that's what authentication is.
Similarly, we have authenticator apps are used, but we'll talk about it in the subsequent section.
"Authenticators are NOT a replacement for a strong password, it's an additional layer of security"
That being said, no matter how strong your password is, without MFA enabled, it's useless.
Why do we say so?
Because one data breach is enough to hack into your system irrespective of how tough your password is.
Do we have any statistics to back the claim about authenticators? Yes, we sure do.
As per tech giant Microsoft, using multi-factor authentication makes your account 99.9% less likely to be compromised! (SOURCE)
Now that's a number bound to convince you.
So, the best chance you have to protect yourself is to have MFA and a strong password.
Now that we know what we're dealing with, let's dive into its history and how it's developed over the years.
What is the history of authenticators?
We'll highlight the journey in three phases.
And discuss the strengths and shortcomings of each phase.
Phase 1: No Authenticators
Here, the systems were only protected by usernames and passwords.
When the internet was at a nascent stage, this security seemed to have been enough.
But in the early 2000s, Bill Gates predicted that this system won't be enough (READ MORE)
Turns out, he was absolutely spot on.
With billions of users and advanced hacking software, an additional layer of security was needed.
That's when basic multi-factor authentication was introduced.
Phase 2: Basic MFA
This primarily involved using mobile phones to send an authentication code.
Or we could download an authenticator app.
This app would generate random numbers that would change every 30 seconds.
The user would enter the number as a security code on the website.
Sounds foolproof? Well, it isn't.
Because your device can be stolen.
You might believe that you're careful.
But a laptop is stolen approximately every 53 seconds as per research conducted by Gartner.
Mobile phones can also be stolen with ease.
You may be the victim and they could have access to the code now.
Moreover, people can be tricked into providing the code to scammers and hackers.
The convenience of a basic MFA comes with a cost.
So, what's the solution?
Phase 3: Modern MFA
This can verify your identity.
It uses advanced technology such as fingerprints and biometrics to confirm the user's identity.
Apart from this, it could also use facial recognition like Apple Face ID.
This is the highest level of security that will suffice for most users.
But hackers have the capability of cracking this too.
Neural networks (a subset of machine learning) can be used to hack fingerprint recognition systems.
You don't need to know how it works, but yes, this is not 100% foolproof either.
Moreover, other sophisticated tools can bypass similar modern-day authentication systems.
So, are we doomed?
Nope. That's the beauty of technology, there is always something more to offer.
And we're going to discuss just that.
What is the future of Multi-Factor authentication?
We thoroughly discussed the past technologies involved in MFA.
But like any other technology, there are advancements.
So, what does the next-generation MFA have in store?
It incorporates Smart Authentication. And yes, it's already been put into practice for various software and websites.
Try logging into Instagram from a location you've never been to and you'll get a warning prompt.
This is the magic of artificial intelligence (AI).
How does it work?
We'll oversimplify it. It basically checks your usage over a period of time.
Any change in location or unknown device among other factors is considered as suspicious.
The new age authentication adds context to your already existing verification process.
Technology is ever-evolving with AI and smart devices becoming the new normal.
Even this cutting-edge process might become redundant in the long run with something more secure to replace it.
"Cybersecurity is not a choice, it's a basic life skill that everyone needs to learn"
We need to be aware of these technological changes.
And keep updating the systems for our security.
Don't ever take your cybersecurity lightly.
Because on the internet, everyone is a target and YOU may be the next victim.
We are surrounded by smart technology and even smarter hackers.
Users need to step up their vigilance and internet hygiene to avoid being victims of cyber attacks. Having MFA enabled is one significant step towards it.
Enable it across all your accounts and safeguard your cyberspace, today. See you in another blog post with a brand new cybersecurity lesson, until then, stay SPECtacular!