Cyber breach cases are on the rise, and 99.9% of mobile breaches target apps. Multi-factor authentication could be a solution. 

Cybercrime cases are up 600% because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Malicious actors are even posing as the center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or WHO representatives to access popular apps. Indeed, some studies show that third-party app stores host 99.9% of all mobile malware.

Every app developer must take the stats seriously. Otherwise, you risk losing your reputation, customers, and eventually the app.

Multi-factor authentication is one of the best tools to keep the bad guys at bay. 

What’s Multi-Factor Authentication?

If you’ve ever entered your regular pin and another code delivered by text or email to access an application, then you already know multi-factor authentication.

Essentially, multi-factor authentication means using more than one token to identify yourself when accessing an online service.

Identification tokens are known as factors. Initially, a single factor–often a password–was enough. 

However, we now have more people using the internet, giving hackers a larger pool to target. It’s much easier to guess one password right from a list of 1,000 than a list of 100. 

Additionally, the cybercriminal industry has advanced so much that they can crack most passwords without breaking a sweat. Multi-step authentication erects a few more roadblocks in the cybercriminal’s path, decreasing the chances of a breach.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the most basic form of multi-factor authentication. All you need is two tokens from the user. But you can also use three factors or more. Any combination of two identification factors equates to multi-factor authentication.

Authentication Factor Categories  

As you ponder your options for multi-factor authentication, we strongly recommend that you consider the following seven categories.

 

           1. Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

Knowledge-based authentication seeks to prove that the individual providing identity information is indeed that person. It does so by testing the knowledge of that individual.

Two options are available;

  • Static KBA – allow the user to select security questions and provide answers stored by the company to change or reset the password. 
  • Dynamic KBA  – generates questions in real-time that apply only to the intended user. Unlike with static KBA, a prior relationship with the customer is not required.

 

           2. Location-Based Authentication 

Location-Based authentication seeks to confirm an individual’s identity by proving the user’s presence at a predetermined location. 

It’s often used as the second step in 2FA processes. First, the individual presents their login information, including a password. Then, they’re required to fulfill another human authentication step to prove that they’re in the targeted location.

Location-based authentication is exceptionally effective when used appropriately. However, time is a significant challenge. Taking and sharing genuine pictures to prove you’re in Oklahoma City, can be a process.

 

          3. Proximity factors

Proximity authentication is a technology that logs users in or out of applications, devices, and other resources based on distance. 

The user is required to have a second device, such as a smartwatch or wearable near the primary device or resource, such as a laptop, to successfully access the restricted services.

The approach often forms part of a multi-factor authentication process and can come first or second. For instance, you can determine the proximity of users before asking them to provide a password. Those out of range are automatically locked out.

 

          4. Possession factors

The possession factor in a security context refers to a category of authentication credentials based on items that the user has with them. 

Hardware devices are the most common candidates. Excellent examples are a phone number or a text message sent to a specific phone number.

Possession factors work exceptionally well because the possessed item can only be in one place at any given time. 

However, the effectiveness is limited to the phone service provider’s reliability. If the services provider is off, you can’t rely on the confirmatory text messages. Even worse, mobile service providers can be compromised.

 

          5. Biometric factors

Biometric authentication factors are security identifiers that seek to identify a user’s identity through unique biological traits, such as the retina, voice, iris, facial characteristics, and fingerprints. 

A major advantage of biometric authentication is that no two people have perfectly similar fingerprints, irises, voices, etc. Therefore, it’s almost impossible for attackers to exploit biometrics.

Unfortunately, issues such as privacy, fear of harm, and general user anxiety continue to hold back biometric authentication. Many people can’t bring themselves to scan their eyes using their phones because they fear it could damage their sight.

 

          6. Risk-Based Authentication 

Risk-Based Authentication (RBA) applies non-static stringency levels to determine the likelihood of a system being compromised. Essentially, it means making authentication more comprehensive and restrictive as the level of risk increases.

Entry can be denied even at the lowest levels if a request seems unusual and suspect. However, the entry requirements become even more stringent as the user seeks admission into more sensitive areas of the application. For instance, it may be required that the user is on a known computer and from a familiar IP address.

Taking the Next Steps

The best thing about all these authentication strategies is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Experts are continuously working on new strategies to build the best authentication methods to protect you, your app, and your customers. For a small fee, you can access the top authentication tools and begin using them right away.

Alternatively, just give NIX Solutions a call. We specialize in emerging technologies to help small and medium-sized businesses make the next step. We can help you determine the best multi-factor authentication strategy for your app.