Why Your Password-less Authentication Needs MFA

Most people these days have a slew of different passwords that they use with various websites and apps. This can be difficult to manage and easy to forget, which is why password-less authentication with MFA is gaining traction in the industry.

Password-less authentication with MFA is becoming more popular because it offers a convenient and efficient way for users to access their accounts. It also reduces the chances of unauthorized access, which means that your information will stay secure and protected from anyone who has malicious intent.

Passwords are an increasing risk to security. They’re subject to brute-force attacks, they’re insecurely stored, and they’re easy to hack. But MFA (multi-factor authentication) is the best way to protect your account without compromising convenience–the more layers of protection you put in place, the safer your account will be.

The Problem with Password-less Authentication

To start, we should look at the differences between password-less authentication, and multi-factor authentication, because they can easily be confused. Password-less authentication attempts to replace passwords with a single mechanism, such as entering a one-time passcode that’s sent to or generated on your smartphone. You only have to input this once every login, and it’s likely that it won’t be detected by anyone trying to gain access to your account.

Multi-factor authentication, on the other hand, relies on an additional factor (usually a combination of different factors) to ensure that someone isn’t getting access to your account.

When it comes to phishing, hacking, and other similar threats, the ideal solution is multi-factor authentication. MFA combined with small business password storage is what’s used by most of the popular services today, and is going to become even more prevalent in the coming years.

The problem with password-less authentication on its own is in the fact it offers a singular authentication method, and while companies are moving away from traditional password entry, password-less authentication by itself isn’t going to keep your data secure.

Why Password-less Authentication Should Require MFA

The key difference between password-less authentication, and multi-factor authentication is the second layer of protection. When you’re using password-less authentication, it’s often provided by a one-time code you provide to the system itself, rather than a mobile device you’re using to submit the code.

Multi-factor authentication means that you’re given alternatives to gain access to your account, whether through biometrics on a mobile device, a physical authenticator that could fit on a keyring, or other viable solutions. If you’re using a password-less authentication system, this is typically going to be your way of securing your account.

You also have to consider that MFA is a good idea if you want to be extra careful when it comes to a social engineering attack. You’ll be able to gain access to your account, but you won’t be able to carry out a coordinated attack as easily. It’s no different than if you’re locked out of your car, but there are ways to get back in with a key or fob.

What Makes Good Multi-Factor Authentication?

Most of the major websites that accept online payments offer a multi-factor authentication system, including PayPal, Amazon, and others. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the different ways you can gain access to your account.

Most services offer a combination of different factors. This will vary from a two-step system, where you authenticate your identity to receive an input token, to a three-step system, where you input a secondary factor with each login. If you’re relying on a password-less authentication system, you’re still able to go for a multi-step system if you need to.

An ideal MFA setup will include code verification and biometrics. For example, the MFA system will send you an input code, but you need to unlock it with your fingerprint.

Biometrics is a fairly new and evolving field, and in the past, there have been mixed results with it. Because of this, you should look into your options, and make sure that you’re doing things the right way, or at least reading about other methods.

Most security experts recommend relying on MFA systems. Having multiple ways of securing your account is a good idea because it increases the barriers to entry for hackers. It’s a way to prevent that element of social engineering, and keep your data safe from outsiders.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.