How to Balance User Authentication Security with User Convenience

According to the latest Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM Security, compromised passwords are the main cause of data breaches around the world. This is an alert to both small businesses and large enterprises that access security and authentication should be a high priority for any cybersecurity strategy.

While it’s well known that enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) for logins is one of the best ways to thwart account compromise, only about 55% of surveyed companies use it. Why? Because users often find it inconvenient.

Companies get pushback from staff who may complain that authentication procedures are hurting their productivity. When customers are involved, companies can back off even more, not wanting to lose people that are tired of doing password resets.

It’s important to strike the right balance between the need to keep unauthorized entities out of your network, while still enabling a good user experience. We’ll go through several ways you can find this balance to keep customers and employees happy without sacrificing your network security.

Tips for More Convenient User Authentication Security

Use a Single Sign-on Solution

The average employee uses 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of authentication action going on, and if the process isn’t smooth, anyone could get frustrated.

Using a single sign-on solution (SSO) reduces the number of times a person needs to sign in to work applications per day. SSO is an application that combines the authentication process for several different applications and then allows users to sign in once to gain access to all of them.

Because the sign-in process is consolidated, you can add additional security protocols, such as multi-factor authentication or security questions, without it being a burden.

Implement Varying Levels of Contextual Authentication

Contextual authentication is a way to improve the security of your company network and data, while also leaning on artificial intelligence and automation to improve the user experience.

When using contextual authentication with multi-factor authentication, you can be more laser-focused on how users are authenticated. For example, rules can be put in place based on:

  • The time of day of the login
  • Where the user is located geographically
  • The device the person is using
  • Time of the last login
  • And more

An example would be asking an additional challenge question if a person is logging in from a geographic location that is outside the norm for your team. This additional question increases security but is only asked when a user is located outside the normal expected range. Thus, it is not inconveniencing employees that are logging in from the usual areas.

A nice thing about contextual authentication is that once it’s set up, the system takes over and the process is automated. The contextual scenarios can also be changed anytime.

Use Device Identification

Excluding passwords in logins is becoming more popular every year because they address this balance of convenience and security. Device identification is one form of a passwordless login. It’s where the authentication of the user is done through a mobile phone or another device that they have physically in their presence.

Today’s authentication apps are very sophisticated and can “fingerprint” a device. For example, looking at factors such as the model, apps on the device, specifications, and even specific songs stored on the device are all factors that an authenticator can use to identify a user.

Several of these device factors are combined to create a “fingerprint” that is then used to authenticate a user. Device authentication is usually done via one-time passcode (OTP) and/or QR code sent to the device.

If the system finds that the device is missing something in its “fingerprint,” then additional protocols can be launched to properly identify the user.

Automate Authentication Based on Roles

Every user you have most likely is not accessing the same high level of sensitive information. You’ll have some users that deal with highly confidential information, such as your banking records and accounting, while others are only handling less sensitive information.

All users need to be authenticated properly to reduce cloud account takeovers by cybercriminals, but they don’t all need the same level of authentication. By using user roles to set up MFA, you can put the most stringent security in for those that need stronger access security without inconveniencing others that don’t have the same type of access.

For example, you may want to use an additional device-based challenge for anyone with access to your company’s financial information. It’s also a good idea to have a higher level of authentication for users with administrative access to your network or cloud accounts.

You still should have adequate authentication security in place for other users, it just doesn’t need to be as strict.

Get a Simple Access Solution That Goes Beyond MFA

Twin State Technical Services can help your Quad Cities area business with a flexible and convenient cybersecurity solution for access security. We’re a Duo partner and will be happy to show you how this Unified Access Security (UAS) solution can benefit your company.

Contact us today for a consultation. Call 563-441-1504 or contact us online.

References linked to:

https://www.tstBuild a Cybersecurity Plan – Cybersecurity Tools for Your Business (

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