Growth & Marketing

October 25, 2020

March 9, 2021

Rising trends in online security and user authentication

Table of contents

Online security evolves rapidly, along with the evolution of the internet itself and the methods for carrying out malicious attacks. In order to protect your business and offer your users a trustful user journey, you need to implement security procedures that protect your users identity, data and devices.

During the last years, we have experienced the renewal of traditional security systems, such as passwords. We do know the history of user identification systems, but what does the future of security look like? What are the main trends to be seen from 2021 on? 

Passwordless solutions

There are tons of different user identification systems, and each of them is suitable for tackling different issues. There isn’t a magic recipe for choosing one over the other, but experts do agree on one aspect: passwords are a thing of the past

In the near future (if not now), passwords are meant to disappear. While today companies tend to complement them to make them more secure, the future looks passwordless.

1. Magic links

Magic links are authenticating URLs that contain tokens and give access to the user to a certain private area. Normally, we see magic links used in multi-factor authentication methods, as a complementary security system. Yet, magic links can be a great standalone solution for verification and authorization — it is highly secure, it implies only one click for the user, and it successfully eliminates password databases.

2. Security keys

Security keys are an effective authentication method effective against account takeovers or phishing, among others. With them, you can go passwordless or implement two-step verification in order to enhance your security. 

This type of hardware authentication can be implemented in web authentication (or WebAuthn), a new trending standard based on a credential management API. With it, users can sign up and be authenticated with web apps and additional hardware methods, such as security keys (among others). Another great way of getting rid of passwords. 

Physical biometrics

In cybersecurity, biometric authentication is any process that identifies a user by checking unique characteristics. Each individual has several differentiating features that can be scanned and be used to grant access to private areas. Physical biometrics use biological characteristics, such as the user’s face, iris, fingerprint, etc.

According to a research carried out by Visa, customers are willing to use biometrics rather than passwords or PINs: 70 % of users believe it is an easier system, 46 % think it is more secure, and 86 % are interested in using it as a verification system. 

3. Fingerprints

Fingerprints can already be found in many authentication systems, for instance to protect access into a smartphone, computer or to guard user access in mobile banking applications, among many others. The installation of hardware features in smartphones and computers has widely spread over the last few years, and it favors the rise of this auth system for many apps. Simply by setting a pattern in their devices, users can determine what their fingerprint is and this will be scan and analyzed with every login attempt.

The use of fingerprints as an authentication system doesn’t seem to vanish. The familiarity and the effectiveness of fingerprints make us think this system will be in vogue during the next few years.

4. Facial recognition

Face recognition is already a reality in some security systems. This method scans the individual anatomy by checking key points of the facial expression. Facial recognition is already used to unlock certain devices, allow money transactions and more. 

As of today, it is possible to fool facial recognition algorithms with the use of high definition images. In the near future, it is expected that facial recognition techniques will be refined and used in a broad range of sectors.

5. Iris recognition

Scanning the iris or retina of an individual is one of the most reliable biometric techniques there are. This system is started to be used in contexts where security is critical.

Yet, this procedure is harder to implement. The hardware requirements to implement iris scanning include a camera with infrared light, in order not to interfere with the iris itself and obtain a reliable image of the iris or retina.

Obviously enough, the installation of a regular camera or a fingerprint scanner is easier than an infrared camera. Hence, this system is not so frequently used, even though it is well developed. Who knows — maybe the evolution of the cameras and their technology will democratize this identification system.

6. Vein recognition

An even more accurate biometric system to recognize individuals is vein recognition. With similar hardware requirements, the person’s veins are analyzed with an infrared LED light camera that checks the person’s blood vessels, which are unique and differentiating. 

Vein recognition is in use for some types of authentication, such as payments with credit card, or attendance tracking, among others. The main advantage of this system is its accuracy — today, it is nearly impossible to fake this pattern, since it is located underneath the user’s skin. This makes vein recognition the most secure biometric system there is today.

7. Voice recognition

Voice is another unique feature that helps differentiate one person from another. This type of biometrics analyzes the user’s voice based on the person’s mouth and jaw’s anatomy. Then it creates a unique pattern, the person’s voiceprint.

Voice recognition softwares are heavily researched for various reasons. Apart from being a potential good security feature, voice recognition helps people with physical disabilities or disorders use computers or smartphones without having to type.

Unfortunately, the security of this system by itself is usually not enough. With the rise of artificial intelligence softwares that imitate a person’s voice and tone, it is easier to fool this type of biometric system. 

In order to enhance security, voice recognition needs to be combined with an additional biometric system — a behavioral biometric method that analyzes the user’s patterns as they speak. That is, the unique rhythm, pace, and articulation of the user when they speak, and not only the sound of their voice. This would be a combination of a physical biometric system and a behavioral biometric system, which brings us to the next point. Keep reading!

Behavioral biometrics

Following the same pattern as physical biometrics, behavioral biometrics use patterns that are unique to an individual and that imply pace, rhythm, tone, posture, etc. In short, behavioral biometrics are based on the person's own behaviour patterns, as opposed to their physical anatomy.

8. Gait recognition

Did you know every person has a unique way of moving and walking? Gait recognition sets a pattern for a person’s way of walking, taking into account the style and the pace. In more detail, gait analysis scans step length, stride length, cadence, foot angle, squat performance and much more.

While gait analysis has been studied since 1980, a major study on the matter was conducted in 2018 — the Gait Kinetic Index. It is most likely that gait recognition is used for identification purposes in contexts such as airports. Still, maybe we do experience gait recognition implemented in identity verification processes online. Who knows!

9. Typing rhythm

If you want to combine traditional passwords with biometrics, typing rhythm is one trending security system that can already be implemented. In this system, a rhythmic pattern is defined every time the user enters a password. The typing of each character in a determined lapse of time is key to determine if it belongs to its truthful owner or if we are facing a fraudulent attack.

One interesting feature about this method is that it offers a great user experience. By implementing typing recognition, the security method is unfolded behind the scenes, without interfering with the user’s navigation.

In a nutshell

Passwordless authentication seems to be the perfect solution to tackle identity theft, both for offline and online security. It looks like the future is passwordless and that we will be using different authentication methods in the next decades. These may be of different nature (hardware tools, biometrics, auth tokens), but what all of them have in common is they tackle the vulnerabilities of passwords.

If you want to start implementing passwordless authentication or even biometrics, get started by trying Arengu for free, or book a demo with our team to unleash all of Arengu’s potential to protect your users’ identity. With it, you can integrate any third-party tools via API, and protect your user identification forms with the combination of security systems that best suit your business needs.

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