Best Practices for Customer Authentication

Best Practices for Customer Authentication

Categories: CIAM, Thought Leadership

Growing your company’s revenue is probably one of your top priorities. Like most business leaders, you’re probably focusing on the typical strategies of increasing sales, improving customer service, and cutting unnecessary expenses. But are you overlooking a critical part of growing your business? 

Your customers turn to you repeatedly because they trust you. New customers are willing to put their faith in you because of brand reputation and recommendations. What happens if that reputation is affected by fraud or a security breach? Trust is difficult to rebuild. That’s why implementing secure customer authentication is vital.

Cybersecurity incidents related to poor authentication are on the rise. In the past two years, phishing attacks doubled, new account fraud rose by 13%, and account takeover attempts increased by over 79%. Customers are even more aware of the implications to their wallets if a company they do business with experiences an attack.

Passwords must die

Simply adding an authentication process isn’t the solution. In fact, the wrong type of authentication can make issues worse—or create new problems. When users can’t successfully sign up, log in, check out, or recover, businesses lose customers and cannot compete effectively. Customers need a positive authentication experience. 

Most businesses (86%) rely on the customer experience as their top differentiator, for good reason. One bad experience leads 50% of customers to drop a company, and 46% won’t go on to buy something from a business after they aren’t able to get through the authentication process. 

When you mention authentication, most people think, “Let’s add a password.” But passwords make customers vulnerable to account takeover fraud and put a bullseye on your database for attackers. 

Multi-factor authentication is not created equal

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) purports to mitigate some of the weaknesses inherent in passwords. In reality, they still cannot secure customers from account takeover fraud. 

This is because legacy MFA leaves the password in place and uses phishable factors. Plus, customer adoption for MFA is low given the friction it introduces.  

Three accepted types of factors are:

  • Inherence: Something that is intrinsically owned by and unique to an individual, such as their face, fingerprint, signature, voice, or other biometrics.
  • Knowledge: Something the individual knows, such as a password or answer to a challenge question
  • Possession: Something the individual has, such as a private key, payment card, or mobile phone

Of these three factors, knowledge factors are shared secrets and therefore the weakest authentication method. 

While inherence factors are unphishable, common deployments simply layer biometrics on top of a password that is still available for use during recovery and stored in a database that can be breached. This detracts from the security improvements offered by biometric authentication. 

Common security vulnerabilities with validating the possession factor comes down to the use of out-of-band methods such as SMS one-time codes, magic links, or push notifications. These methods are vulnerable to phishing, SIM swapping, and notification flooding attacks to name a few. 

Best practices in authentication

We’ve helped many companies just like yours improve the security and experience of their authentication process. Here are best practices we’ve learned: 

  • Developers should not be responsible for security. Developers are amazing at creating apps and systems, but they are not typically security experts. Nevertheless, many organizations put security on their developers’ already overflowing plate. Security should be offloaded from the development team so they can focus on shipping core product features. By using partners with specific security expertise, you will improve both your core product and your security.
  • Eliminate the use of second devices, one-time passcodes, and push notifications. Yes, many organizations use these weak factors in their MFA solution and it’s annoying and time-consuming. Customers are relieved when they don’t have to jump through unnecessary hoops. Additionally, these methods of authentication are phishable. Instead, use frictionless and unphishable authentication experiences across sign-up, login, and checkout. 
  • Use passwordless MFA. With passwordless MFA, such as Beyond Identity, the credentials are unphishable and convenient.
  • Protect customer privacy. When creating your authentication policy, you should also consider privacy concerns. Your customers want to keep their private data private. You also need to follow all applicable privacy regulations for both your industry and location. 
  • Think omni-channel. The days of all customers logging in from a computer are long gone. Your customers will interact from different platforms, devices, and applications, sometimes all at once. Make sure they have a positive and secure experience, regardless of how they access your products or systems. 
  • Use open standards for flexible extensibility. Your products should interact effortlessly with other vendors and systems. Make integration with other platforms and future systems possible by using open standards.
  • Consider a cloud-native platform for elastic scalability. If you experienced a  surge of new customers next week, how difficult would it be to add that many new logins using your authentication process? The ability to add new logins, virtually overnight, shouldn’t be a stress point for your business. If your authentication system has limits, then your customers will encounter problems that may cause them to leave. With the right authentication system, you can quickly add new customers at the drop of a hat. 

How Beyond Identity can help

When you partner with Beyond Identity, your customers get the experience they expect through our frictionless, passwordless authentication solution. Your customers can begin securely using your product without taking any extra steps.

Beyond Identity replaces insecure passwords and phishable MFA with universal passkeys comprised of public-private key pairs that are compatible with any application, device, or platform. Instead of passwords, users are securely authenticated with invisible MFA that only uses phishing-resistant factors. There is no separate application download, one-time code, push notification, or second devices required at all.  

But there’s more to it than making the process simpler—Beyond Identity eliminates the possibility of password attacks. If your customers aren’t using passwords, stolen credentials and other password-related cybersecurity incidents simply can’t happen. And you no longer have to worry about account takeover fraud, since only your customers can access their accounts.

When you combine a positive authentication experience with high security, you exceed your customers’ expectations. Organizations with higher digital maturity realize 45% higher net revenue growth than their peers, accelerate customer conversations, increase existing customer loyalty, and make it easy for new customers making purchases. 

If you’re wondering why your company isn’t meeting revenue growth goals, improving the security and experience of your authentication is likely a key part of the solution. Get a demo today.