Traditional authentication, including multi-factor authentication, is predictable. Each time you log in, you follow the same process every time. Every time you log in you have full access to all your applications, no matter what. But is this asking for trouble?
In today's digital world, where hackers are becoming ever more resourceful in finding holes in your security posture, dynamic policies are necessary. Adaptive authentication is one way organizations attempt to stay a step ahead.
What is adaptive authentication?
Adaptive authentication, sometimes referred to as risk-based authentication, selects the appropriate authentication factors depending on perceived risk and user behavior. Factors including the user's geographical location, the device used, user role, and more can play a part in whether and what access is granted. Think of it as an advanced type of multi-factor authentication.
How adaptive authentication works
Organizations can set up adaptive authentication in the following ways:
- Using static policies to define risk levels for various authentication factors
- Using machine learning to develop a baseline for "typical" user behavior and adjust user access appropriately using these factors
- A combination of static and dynamic policies
Once these baselines are set, identity and access management are handled automatically. Adaptive authentication builds a profile on each user, containing information on registered devices, user roles, geographic location, and more.
When users attempt to log in, they are assigned a risk score. The risk score determines the type and number of authentication methods required to grant access. For example, if a user logs in using an unregistered device, the system prompts them to verify their identity using step-up authentication to ensure they are authorized to access the materials. Another example is if a user logs in on a trusted device at a geolocation known within the system their risk score will be low and they will not be asked for additional authentication.
With traditional authentication, much of the security burden is on the organization to assure that attackers are kept out. With adaptive authentication, the burden to prove identity adapts to the situation and assigns risk scores accordingly. The username and password are no longer enough.
Examples of when adaptive authentication is used
Adaptive authentication isn't necessarily a single product: it is an overall strategy. If you're following zero trust principles already, you've already implemented adaptive authentication in some form.
If you haven't implemented zero trust yet, we can think of several examples of situations where transitioning to adaptive authentication is a wise move:
- You're already using multi-factor authentication
- You want to control access to sensitive applications
- Your company is transitioning to remote work
- To comply with ever more strict privacy regulation
Of course, this is just a small sample of potential use cases. Any organization looking to implement zero trust should use adaptive multi-factor authentication.
The added security layers with adaptive authentication
Adaptive authentication solutions provide far more security than two-factor authentication, which are the most common user authentication schemes in use today. It's predictable, and you always know you'll need to enter a passcode. But hackers know that too. How do you know that passcode made it to the right person?
You don't, and that's what makes adaptive authentication so much better. Adaptive authentication policies continuously monitor the user’s security posture, adding additional authentication factors if necessary. It knows the user’s typical activities, and when suspicious activity occurs, it moves to isolate the user and protect your business applications.
Some solutions even use machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect new attack vectors before they're known, making the job of IT personnel a lot easier when it comes to fighting cyberattacks.
Unlike standard authentication, adaptive authentication adapts to the situation and can react to one far faster than any human could. It is identity and access management made for modern cyber threats.
How can you make adaptive authentication even more secure?
A majority of hacks are the result of a compromised username and password. We think there's a way to make adaptive authentication even more secure, and that's eliminating the password. Beyond Identity has built an adaptive authentication solution from the ground up that uses modern cryptography to provide a seamless experience.
Our customer authentication solution offers passwordless authentication to your customers, while our workforce authentication solution does the same for your organization's internal network. In either case, our platform integrates into your authentication process using just a few lines of code.
Tokens are tied to the user's device, which replaces the password, ensures all devices on your network are authorized, and allows you to enforce your network security policies on both company and non-company devices. It also eliminates the potential for password-based attacks because there is no password used ever.
Behind the scenes, our passwordless platform looks at one of more than 25 factors for signs of trouble. Different factors are selected based on the user's risk profile to ensure the person is who they say they are. Beyond Identity's platform offers passwordless MFA without the need for the user to enter a code.
It's time to ditch the password altogether. We'd love to show you the modern way to prove user identity. Ask for a demo today.