What is an Authentication?
Authentication is the process to verify information or credentials and ensure that it aligns with the original information or knowledge presented. When applied to the digital or online world, authentication is an extremely important process to verify user ID which can then permit users to access specified and often sensitive information and in turn restrict others who do not pass verification process. For individuals, and entire networks alike, authentication is a critical component to online security and a means to protect against any form of cybersecurity that could pose any potential threat.
Types of Authentication Factors
There are various factors that can allow the process of authentication. These factors pull from a variety of ways in which a system can verify a user to permit access to a database. Of these factors, combinations of authentication are then created to verify a user’s access into the network they desire to engage with. Below are the common types of authentication factors.
- Knowledge Factor: This is a common method of verifying a user in the process of authentication. A user will be verified based on something that they know. This could result in the knowledge of a password, a personal identification number (PIN), a security question and other knowledge-based prompts. This is the simplest and most basic factor in the authentication process.
- Ownership Factor: This type of authentication factor deals with a physical item that conveys permission of access. This can vary in terms of what that item may appear as. More often an ownership factor can be presented as an ID card, a hardware of software token, a wrist-band or any other physical object of sorts that grants access in the process of authentication.
- Inherence Factor: This factor involves verifying authentication through a user or individual’s inherent feature. This authentication factor can be seen through current trends of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets with fingerprint or face ID recognition. Utilizing the factor of a person’s being or what they do can be used as a method of granting permission and access to sensitive information.
Types of Authentication
While each authentication factor varies in terms of the potential threat of cyberattack it faces, the optimal solution in creating the ideal authentication process to ensure online protection is using a combination of the factors. Below are the listed ways in which the authentication factors can be utilized.
- Single Factor Authentication: This form of verification occurs when only one type of an authentication factor is implemented. Based on the type chosen, one authentication factor may not be strong enough to ensure the most reliable method of authorizing access. If only one factor is chosen to be implemented, this runs the risk of attackers only needing to infiltrate one authentication factor.
- Multi-Factor Authentication: A multi-factor authentication process is the combination of more than a single factor in order to ensure the verification of users. The advantage with this process is the increased level of security that creates a reliable barrier to fend off any potential cybersecurity attack. Using multiple authentication factors translates to matching methods of access that are not directly related to one another. Implementing a knowledge factor with an ownership factor does not signify that one is directly connected to the other reassuring the emphasis of security placed on this process.