Using Alternatives to Passwords
We have harped…and harped ad infinitum…about having strong passwords simply because those strings of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters offered the best chances of staying ahead of the hackers. But we’ve always reminded you that something better is needed because the bad guys have a vested interest in developing better systems to crack passwords and in finding more ways to exploit vulnerabilities in anybody’s electronic vaults that store vital personal and corporate info.
When one of our clients got hacked, we installed a password-less system to offer them better security. Our solution, which uses Microsoft Azure, is one of the emerging technologies to replace passwords with biometrics, one-time codes, hardware tokens and other multi-factor authentication options. What they do is exchange tokens and certificates without users – you, your employees and your customers – needing to remember anything. The new pathway to better protection even bypasses the password managers that many of you use.
IT industry figures show that more than 80 percent of security breaches involve stolen passwords and credentials. We all pick passwords that are too simple and easy to guess, or we store and reuse a few complex passwords that we can remember. That problem is exacerbated by forcing regular password changes even without evidence of breach. If password reset systems rely on people, they can be fooled by social engineering. Password-less technologies can combine certificates with contextual security policies that require less from you. They rely more on trusted devices and connections, and they can add layers of complexity as risks rise. New security can be based on the value of the content and factors such as user behavior, device location and connection, or the state of the device.
You can already set up password-less access using Microsoft’s Azure AD Conditional Access. Many of you who use our backup services already have Azure accounts, and you can use the technology to manage:
- Sign-in risk to identify who’s signing in and determine who’s a risk.
- Network location to determine if access is being attempted from a network location that is not under your control or the control of your IT department.
- Device management for accessing cloud apps from a broad range of devices including mobile and personal devices.
- Client application to manage cloud access using different app types, such as web-based, mobile, or desktop.
There are some cross-platform technologies available for going password-less, but it all starts with the Microsoft Authenticator app. It uses key-based authentication to create a user credential that’s tied to a device and uses a PIN or biometric. Instead of using a password to sign in, users see a number code to enter into the Authenticator app, where they have to enter their PIN or provide a biometric.
Password-less sign-in for Microsoft accounts with the Microsoft Authenticator app is already available, and support for signing into Azure AD is now in public preview. Right now, the app can only cover a single account registered with Azure AD in one tenant, but support for multiple accounts is planned in the future. It covers Office 365 and Azure and works with a variety of other apps.
If you’re ready to go password-less, we can help you decide what’s right for you and set up your accounts and devices. Just give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment.