Other Threats

What Is Authentication and Why Is It Important?

what is authentication

Authentication is the process of proving whether the user trying to access any particular system is the user it claims to be. In this process, users use metrics such as the username and password to log in to web applications.

Each user’s login information should be unique and very difficult to guess.

How Does Authentication Work?

While logging in, the system established a two-way communication between the user and the server. Session management is necessary to maintain the state of the connection to a server and subsequently remember the response to the next session request.

Systems complete the process by comparing the information received from the server with the information of the user who wants to log in.

What Are Authentication Factors?

Systems use the authentication factor to authenticate the user who wants to access a resource. Username and password are among the most basic authentication factors. The user determines the username and password. This process is one-factor authentication method.

A strong authentication process must be resistant to attacks and secure. To achieve this, at least two-factor authentication processes are recommended and considered as the industry standard. These factors usually consist of information that users already know, have, or inherit.

Apart from these, experts developed the fourth and fifth factors over the years and they are in use these days. The factors used today are provided in the following sections.

Knowledge Factors

Knowledge factors consist of user-owned information such as the user’s identification number, username, password, or an answer to a secret question.

Possession Factors

Possession factors consist of credentials based on objects that the user owns or can carry. For example, one-time passwords, the hardware used for access, and confirmation messages to the phones are possession factors.

Inherence Factors

Inherence factors consist of biometric identification using fingerprints, facial recognition, retinal scanning, or other biometric data.

Location Factors

Location factors are often used together with other factors due to their low specificity. GPS-equipped devices or network paths provide the required the location information.

In general, systems do not use the location factor alone in authentication but use it together with other factors to limit access requests.

Time Factors

Just like the location factors, systems do not use time factors alone but together with other factors. Unlike the location factors, it is preferred to improve the security against attacks by rejecting requests outside the predetermined time zones for access to the resource.

Behavior Factors

Behavior factors consist of predetermined actions to gain access to the systems. System user sets these actions and perform them in the right order to gain access.

Android mobile phone screen locks, which require you to draw a pattern, are the best examples of behavioral factors.

What Are Authentication Methods?

In general, the system encrypts and stores the username and password information in a system file for access. The authentication is provided by this encrypted data.

The system encrypts the username and password information when a user requests access to a system and compares it to the encrypted data. The system authenticates the user when the two passwords and usernames match.

This method used in authentication has some disadvantages especially for resources distributed between different systems. Other methods are as follows.

Two-Factor Authentication

As the name suggests, two-factor authentication adds a second layer to authentication. The user uses an additional factor in addition to this or her password and username.

In general, it is usually provided with a one-time password sent to a pre-registered phone or email.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication includes the use of inherence factors such as fingerprint or facial recognition in addition to possession or knowledge factors and username and password.

One-Time Password

One-time passwords are a string of numeric or alphanumeric characters automatically generated for access. These passwords are used for a single login.

In general, systems generate these are passwords for users to log in or change their passwords. Also, mobile banking branches use these passwords as a third verification factor to sign in.

Three-Factor Authentication

Three-factor authentication systems are used together with knowledge, possession, and inherence authentication factors.


Although some systems only depend on biometric authentication, some systems also use biometric factors a second or third verification factor.

Fingerprint scans, face or retina scans, and voice recognition are among the most common types of biometric authentication methods.

Mobile Authentication

This is the process of authenticating users with their mobile devices. This mobile process includes multi-factor authentication that may include one-time passwords, biometric authentication, or QR code verification.

Continuous Authentication

In this method, the user uses an application as an alternative to log in and out each time. The application calculates a score to verify the account holder and device user.

What Are the Disadvantages of the Traditional Authentication Method?

As you can guess, the traditional method can be insufficient to protect the systems against cybercriminals. Firstly, hackers, who access the password of the system, can initiate brute-force attacks for hashed passwords to get them.

Secondly, this method requires multiple factors for modern applications accessing resources across multiple systems. Password-based authentication provides a degree of security even if it is equipped with security strategies to generate more complex passwords. Some of these strategies include requiring capital letters, symbols, and a minimum number of characters.

However, they are more vulnerable than systems that require multiple independent methods.

What Is Authentication in Cyber ​​Security?

Authentication has crucial importance in cyber security. It is because the computer systems, networks, databases, websites, and other network-based applications or other resources that may include services allow access to only authenticated users (or processes).

Thus, system and network security are ensured. Moreover, this contributes to the protection of personal and sensitive data. It is one of the most crucial parts of data security.

After the verification, authorization is carried out to verify the user’s access to the system or resource. The system may not grant access to verified users if the user has no access authorization to the resource or system.

People often confuse verification and authorization. Security mechanisms benefit from both concepts, but they are different processes.

Verification verifies the user who wants to access a protected resource, while authentication is the process of verifying the authenticated user’s permission to access the resource. Access control is the process of restricting access to resources to specific users.

MS Cyber Security can help you to equip your systems and networks with the latest methods to improve the overall security. You can contact us at any time to get information or receive a free quote.

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