User Identity Authentication That Blocks Phishing and Data Breaches

This overview explains how the newest authentication methods can protect against phishing attacks, data breaches, and their destructive business effects. We explore precisely why authentication and identity authentication are vital tools for reducing vulnerability. You’ll also learn clever alternatives to passwords and how to slash your risk of credential theft, compromise and misuse.


What is Identity Authentication?

Identity authentication is a security measure that controls user access to IT resources, including extent and timings. Both Cloud IAM and traditional IAM feature it.
This security measure guarantees that only the appropriate user can access the necessary resources to complete their tasks. It also prevents all other users or software from gaining access to data, applications, networks, or endpoints. Identity authentication usually combines software, policies and processes such as MFA, SSO and PAM.


Why is Identity Authentication Used in Identity And Access Management?

User and identity authentication can help to prevent unauthorised access, I.e., when someone or something can access IT resources without express permission.

Unauthorised access could be internal (an employed user) or external (a third party or threat actor). It could be accidental. For example, an employee might innocently sift through a private financial document to find details to pay a bill.

Unauthorised access could also be malicious. For example, a disgruntled employee could disconnect a server. Additionally, a hacker might use stolen credentials to access your network and plant ransomware.


Why is User Authentication Vital to Reduce Data Breaches?

Unauthorised access commonly occurs after a successful social engineering attack. For example, a phishing attack may result in email account compromise, credential theft and lateral network movement for critical workload access.

Unauthorised access may be caused by inadequate internal user authentication. It could also be due to a cobalt strike – when penetration testing goes beyond its intended purpose. Unfortunately, the result is often a data breach preventable with good user authentication.


What User Authentication Should Be Used Instead of Passwords?

User authentication goes far beyond passwords and admins. After all, authenticating users can be a major headache with the vast number of IT infrastructure functions, data and locations.

Having strong, frequently cycled passwords and minimising admin users is no longer enough to protect your network, data, endpoints and applications. Threat actors are far more intelligent and will use clever social engineering techniques to cause harm.

Today, IT leaders should pursue a robust Access Management strategy instead. A strategy should include user and identity management solutions implemented at every layer of a security stack. Consider including:


Does That Mean Passwords are Bad for Identity Authentication?

Passwords are not obsolete for identity management – not by a long shot! However, they must be extremely strong, changed regularly and assigned least privileged permissions as standard. If your business’s unauthorised access risk places a high resource burden on your admins, consider automated privileged password management.


How Does User Authentication and Identity Authentication Work?

Identity authentication works to prevent unauthorised access as part of an Identity and Access Management strategy. It is particularly effective at stopping harmful phishing attacks and data breaches. How user and identity authentication works depends on the specific tools your business uses. The following tools are ideal for reducing reliance on physical passwords that are vulnerable to theft, compromise and misuse.

Single Sign-On (SSO): Allows users to use one set of login credentials to access multiple applications or systems. When a user logs in to one application, they are automatically logged in to all others without requiring additional login credentials.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Identity and Access Management that requires users to provide multiple forms of identification to access IT resources. Users will provide the following:

  • Something they know (a password).
  • Something they have (a security token).
  • Something they are (biometric data).

Biometric authentication: Uses the unique characteristics of an individual to verify their identity. Characteristics may include fingerprints, facial recognition, voice recognition, or iris scanning. It works by capturing and comparing biometric data from the individual to a pre-existing template.

Token-based authentication: An Identity and Access Management capability that uses a token -a unique string of characters – for identity authentication. When a user logs in, the server sends a token to the user’s device. The token is then used for all future user authentication requests, replacing login credentials.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): A form of unauthorised access control that restricts IT access based on job or function roles. Users are assigned roles with corresponding permissions, which determine their level of access to resources. This simplifies managing user permissions and ensures users can only access necessary IT resources.

Privileged Password Management (PPM): Identity and Access Management that helps to manage and secure admin, super-user or other privileged accounts. PPM can rotate and store passwords, enforce policies and control access to privileged accounts, i..e, when temporary access is needed. As a result, it significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access to critical resources and data.


Do You Need Better Identity and Access Management In Your Business?

Sentis Managed Solutions provided Cloud Identity and Access Management solutions, including audits, consultation, specifications, and implementation from leading brands.
It’s always best to confirm your needs upfront, so why not book a free security audit with Sentis? Learn more about our audits here or browse our IAM solutions.