Cyber threats are on the rise; online users today contend with phishing, malware infections, and account takeovers. Attackers employ sophisticated social engineering techniques to steal sensitive data or credentials through malicious links and downloads. Multi-factor authentication is, therefore, significant in protecting personal and professional information online. Keep reading to learn the most common authentication techniques used in computer networks for enhanced online security.

Authentication Types

What are the types of authentication in security?

The three main categories of authentication are knowledge-based, token-based, and biometric-based.

What are the three types of authentication in cybersecurity?

The three types of authentication commonly used in security and cybersecurity are knowledge-based, token-based, and biometric-based.

Knowledge-based authentication relies on secrets known only to the user, such as passwords, PINs, or security questions. It's the most widely used type due to convenience, but it can be vulnerable if secrets are compromised. Credentials like usernames and passwords are easily guessed or stolen through phishing.

Implementing long, unique passwords helps strengthen knowledge-based authentication. Token-based authentication involves physical devices that users possess to verify identity, such as security keys, smart cards or software tokens generated by authenticator apps. These OTPs and codes are more secure than static credentials.

Biometric authentication utilizes unique human characteristics like fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scans, or voice patterns for identification. Such credentials are virtually impossible to forget, share or lose.

Computer and Network Authentication

What are the types of authentication in computer networks?

Common authentication methods for computer networks and online systems include username/password, certificates, and multifactor authentication (MFA).

What are the three types of computer authentication?

The three main types of authentication for computer networks are username and password authentication, certificate-based authentication, and multifactor authentication.

Username and password authentication relies on verifying login credentials and is the most widely implemented due to its simplicity of use. However, it offers the lowest level of security, since compromised or leaked credentials can easily enable unauthorized access.

Certificate-based authentication provides stronger verification than usernames alone, as it uses public-key cryptography to establish trust between two parties on a network.

Authentication Methods

What are the three authentication methods?

Popular authentication techniques include passwords, one-time passwords (OTP), and public critical infrastructure (PKI). Passwords are the most basic and widely used, yet they are vulnerable.

OTPs provide more robust security than static passwords by generating unique codes. PKIs utilize digital certificates containing public keys to verify identity and encrypt communications.

What are the four general forms of authentication?

The four general forms of authentication are passwords, one-time passwords (OTP), public critical infrastructure (PKI), and biometrics.

What is basic authentication for REST API?

Basic authentication is a simple username and password method commonly used for REST APIs. It provides a basic level of access control by transmitting credentials as part of each HTTP request header. This type of authentication is ideal for low-security use cases like software development environments but is not recommended for production systems due to the lack of encryption for transmitted credentials.

Multi-factor Authentication

What are examples of multi-factor authentication?

Examples of multifactor authentication methods include OTPs via text/email, separate authentication apps, security keys, and biometrics. Here's how they work:

  • OTP apps send unique login codes to a user's phone or email each time they want to access an account—this adds an extra layer of security beyond a password. But, SMS and email can sometimes be intercepted, thus compromising the second factor.

  • Apps like Google Authenticator and Authy generate time-based OTPs that sync across devices, removing the risk of codes being intercepted. Users must have access to the device with the authenticator app to log in.

  • Hardware security keys like YubiKey provide strong two-factor protection by requiring a physical key in addition to a password. These are secure, though they still need users to keep track of the physical key.

Biometric traits like fingerprints offer the convenience of verifying identity with inherent user attributes. Note that biometric data could be stolen or replicated, which undermines its security as a second factor.

Who uses three-factor authentication?

While two-factor authentication is common, financial institutions and government agencies that process highly sensitive data implement three-factor authentication by combining passwords, physical tokens, and biometric traits. For example, the US Department of Defense uses three-factor authentication for logging into classified networks due to the critical nature of the information. Large banks will utilize three forms of identity verification for employees accessing critical financial systems or for high-risk customer transactions.

Final Thoughts

The most appropriate authentication method depends on your specific security needs. Where single-factor may be sufficient for low-risk use cases, crucial systems demand multi-factor authentication given evolving cyber threats. Proper identification ensures only authorized access and transactions through the strongest authentication options. Book a Demo with Trava to learn how cyber risk management can help fortify your cybersecurity defenses.