A look into authentication for the day after passwords

Much buzz has been recently generated by Apple’s most prominent new feature on the iPhoneX - the face-recognition technology for unlocking the phone. Unfortunately, the authentication failed in spectacular fashion when Apple’s software head Craig Federighi announced that unlocking the phone was “as easy as looking at it and swiping up” - except that it wasn’t. He subtly called for backup to unlock the phone and the show continued.

Upon looking at the large screen above the stage, viewers saw the same classic numbers dial for entering a code, unchanged since the first iPhone (and original phone dials for that matter). Companies from Apple to your local bank are still grappling with ways to replace the password to increase security and improve user experience.

This drive to replace the password is for good reason. They are the cause of anguish and user friction, and are easy to steal. A recent 2017 Verizon survey noted that when analysing all hacker and malware attacks, a whopping 81% were based on stolen passwords alone. Companies still rely on it nonetheless, even if paired with technology like Apple’s new face-recognition. Enterprises have particular challenges, as we’ve seen cases where one compromised password resulted in entire networks being infiltrated.

There have been a number of trends led by startups over the past three years preparing for a time post-passwords. Alternatives and complementary solutions are quietly being implemented by major US banks, enterprises, and consumer software companies, and now is the time for enterprises to reframe the way they understand authentication in general. If companies can successfully diversify their authentication strategies while raising the level of security, they will be able to abandon passwords completely.

The iPhoneX face-recognition technology for example, follows an acquisition of Israeli face-recognition startup called RealFace this year, and the 2014 acquisition of the 3D sensing company - Primesense.

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Evan Chesir

Evan Chesir is a Tel Aviv based freelance marketing advisor and tech writer. He has worked with numerous startups and enterprises in areas such as cyber-security, enterprise technology, robotics and more, covering the way these technologies are changing our world.

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