Login explained: choose the right authentication for your platform
Login is one of the most important functionalities of a customer portal. It is the customer's first contact moment with the software and, at the same time, key to the security of the platform. From the user's point of view, it is important to be able to login in an easy and pleasant way. For developers, it is important to have a solid and reliable authentication method. In this article, we explain what flavours there are and what is involved.
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First, we look at different ways of logging in. Then we look at what authentication is involved. When logging in, it is important for a user to maintain a good user experience. Too much effort leads to irritation, while too little effort compromises reliability. The following login methods are most commonly used:
Password login the most common way to log in. This method requires users to enter a username and password to access the application or website. This method is easy to set up and use.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a way of logging in where users go through multiple steps to access an application or website. This authentication method can include various measures such as passwords, security questions, one-time numeric code, biometric verification or phone number verification. It is designed to provide a more secure user experience and protection against malicious users.
Biometric authentication is a form of identification that uses unique physical characteristics to identify a person. Examples of biometric authentication include fingerprint scanning, facial recognition and iris scanning. This way of logging in offers a higher level of security than traditional passwords because it relies on physical attributes. These are not easily stolen or hacked.
Social Login is a login method that lets users log in with their existing social media accounts. This form of authentication is convenient for users as they do not have to remember an additional password. However, this only applies to the group using the social media platform in question. On the contrary, it becomes more difficult for non-users to log in. It is therefore advisable to offer this login variant additionally.
Passwordless is an emerging authentication method that no longer requires passwords. Instead, users are asked to confirm their identity through a combination of authentication methods such as email address, SMS code or biometrics. This method provides a secure and convenient way for users to access their accounts without having to remember a password
Authentication for Development:
For developers, it is important that authentication can take place optimally. The method of authentication should match the login method while providing maximum reliability. Besides, it has to be safe! In addition, manageability is also an important aspect. The more complex, the more costly the maintenance. Below are some examples of authentication methods
The simplest method for authentication is database-based. Or based on a database of usernames and passwords. This data is stored in a central database on a central server. This makes it easy to manage, but also vulnerable to hacks. If the database is hacked, all login credentials are available and usable at once.
Token-based authentication is a form of authentication where tokens are used to verify the user's identity. It involves the exchange of a token, or access code, between the user and the server to prove the user's identity. This form of authentication is more secure because it prevents malicious users from gaining access to a system by guessing passwords or using stolen credentials.
Certificate-based authentication is a form of authentication that uses digital certificates to verify a user's identity. This form of authentication requires users to use a digital certificate issued by a trusted certification authority. The certificate contains information about the user, such as their name, e-mail address and other personal details.
Single sign-on (SSO) is a type of authentication that allows users to access multiple applications and websites with just one username and password. This authentication method does not require users to remember multiple passwords, making it easier and more convenient to use. If this SSO is linked to a trusted platform, such as Microsoft Teams, it can also mean a significantly higher level of security.
Webauthn is a web-based authentication standard that allows users to securely log in to their online services without using passwords. This technology relies on biometrics or cryptographic keys stored on the device. This eliminates the need for username/password combinations. This makes it less vulnerable to hacking and phishing practices. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has standardised the use of Webauthn, as a result it is supported by a large number of browsers and platforms.
Considerations when choosing the right login and authentication
Everyone naturally strives to have the safest platform possible. Yet one platform is not like another. Therefore, always look for the right balance between usability and security. For a platform with sensitive data, security and reliability are important. Then an extensive log in and complex authentication is worthwhile. If there is no sensitive data, then it may be better to opt for a simple login and authentication.