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Balancing Secure Authentication with Technological Convenience

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secure authenticationSecure Authentication is just one benefit to the many recent advances in technology that have taken hold.  Technology has been changing the landscape of society for decades and will most likely continue to do so at an exponential rate from now on. These changes have influenced the lives of everyday people greatly by both providing increasingly secure methods of interacting with the digital world, as well as allowing us to work more efficiently and effectively throughout our daily lives. This increase in productivity, supplanted by the many advents of technology, has allowed us more time for leisure and relaxation. Instead of having to pour over hundreds of books and documents while performing research, all we need to do is a simple Google search in order to find information we need. These days, getting instant gratification is easy and thank goodness that’s the case because we are all better off for it – in terms of secure authentication, convenience, and our own peace of mind.

Sacrifices to Secure Authentication

Despite the benefits that technology has unarguable brought about, there are definitely some drawbacks that have presented themselves as we have become more accustomed to using this technology. As we have gained more technology, we have often sacrificed privacy and secure authentication for convenience and speed. This sacrifice, which seems to have made everyone’s lives better, has left us open to attackers because we become too complacent with how we protect ourselves online. The sacrifices that we often make for secure authentication seem menial at times, but can often result in a huge loss down the road – one that we often only notice when it is too late.

Protecting ourselves from attackers online can be a complex task. Just about every application online has different standards of secure authentication and, depending on the application, they can also have different levels of impact on your life should things go wrong. One example would be for people who use an application called Mint to track their finances. Mint needs access to usernames and Google Walletpasswords to a user’s bank account in order to give accurate information about individual spending habits for the month. This application is certainly convenient, and millions of people use the app, but even though it might be small, there is a security risk with giving a company this kind of secure authentication information online.

Another example of convenience that possible sacrifices security are services like Google Wallet. We talk about some of the security risks with using NFC based applications in this blog article. And if these security issues are breached then it becomes extremely easy for an attacker to take advantage of your finances and your information – which is why secure authentication and best practices are so important today, and will continue to be important in the future.

Of Course, It’s Not All Bad

Even though using technology can leave users open to attacks online, increased convenience through technology does not always decrease security. In some cases, increases in convenience can actually result in an increase in secure authentication for the user as well. A good example of this is a service such as Single Sign-On, which allows a user to use one password in order to access multiple different directories. By following SSO best practices for secure authentication, this allows the user to remember only one very secure password as opposed to having to memorize dozens of insecure passwords or use duplicate passwords for multiple accounts. This sort of sacrifice to secure authentication for convenience, unfortunately, is commonplace – but Single Sign-on provides a method to strike a balance between convenience and security without sacrificing one for the other.

Another great example of implementing secure authentication best practices without hindering convenience would be risk based authentication. Risked based authentication – also known as contextual authentication – uses the context of the user such as location, time, or ip address in order to authenticate that user. This makes it much more difficult for an attacker to gain access to a user’s account with no additional burden placed on the actual user.

So even though there are many instances where using technology for improved convenience can lead to a decrease the amount of security that users have, there are other ways to ensure that we are using technology responsibly. Technological convenience has definitely helped increase the well being of society over time and – so long as consumers make the right decisions to find a balance between secure authentication and convenience – keeping your privacy private should be a breeze.

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