In this digital world, most of the people are not away from digital devices starting from mobile phones to cloud servers. How do people use all these gadgets securely? And what makes people use them securely. If you press the word ‘security’, One thing always stands first, which is authentication. You may need to prove your identity before using it if there is any authentication in place. Now you have got me what I mean. The ‘password’ is the most common way of authentication till the day. And, do you know an interesting thing? This is one of the most vulnerable things that hackers are always interested in. Various studies showed that attacks against passwords kept increasing year after year. In support of that, many popular companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many more started encouraging password-less logins. Some of you may wonder when I say ‘password-less login,’ and several questions may arise, how secure is that, how does it work, and how reliable is that? And maybe even more. It’s quite obvious to think so. Let’s see five such best password alternatives to use.
1. Multi-Factor Authentication:
We can’t tell if this is a clear best password alternative. We have included MFA “Multi-factor Authentication” in this list as it replaces traditional passwords with a PIN or OTP. It is very straight, as the name says. In this form of authentication, the user needs to supply more than one factor or element to prove his/her identity. Before this, let’s go back into the traditional way of authentication, wherein you just enter your login name and password to log in is said to be single-factor authentication or SFA, a subset of multi-factor authentication. Another most prevalent subset of this type is two-factor authentication or simple 2FA. It is gaining a lot of popularity as this is proved to be more secure than SFA by adding an additional layer of security, making it harder for bad guys to log in as if they were you. The market is flooded with plenty of two-factor authenticator applications. The most popular ones are Microsoft’s Authenticator and google’s authenticator.
A couple of real-world examples:
Here are a couple of real-world examples which would give you a clear idea about multi-factor authentication:
- ATM cash withdrawal: Where you need to insert a card and enter the PIN.
- Log in to a system that asks to enter a PIN sent to your email, or phone as a text message, or could be random tokens after username and password.
2. Biometric Authentication:
This is the perfect example of the best password alternative. The second most prevalent type of authentication. This is the authentication method where the user needs to prove his/her identity by providing his/her biological data as proof. This concept is consistently developing with time, and experts say it is going to be used more in the feature. But, there is always a risk of stealing biological data and using it for illegal activities.
- Touch ID
- Face ID
- Fingerprint login
- DNA Matching
- Behavioral recognition
- Retina, pulse, and many more.
3. Password Managers:
Although this doesn’t fit into this list of the best password alternatives. We have included this as, in some cases, it doesn’t let you enter the password manually.
Need for a password manager in real-world example:
As more as you start using the internet, you may need to use more and more accounts. Today, from dating sites to secure banking sites, nearly every site you use insists you create a user account. And there is no end to this. This would lead you to remember dozens and dozens of passwords, which is a troublesome task for the human brain. To overcome this, some folks use the simplest passwords like ‘12345678’ or ‘password’ as these are easy to remember. And others may memorize their own complex password and use them everywhere. Both these methods were likely to fall into trouble or compromise your accounts.
Hold on, don’t be scared. There is a way to manage this problem in a secure way. Act like a smart, take a wise man’s decision. Use password managers. Password managers help you in many ways, it secures all your passwords, generate random passwords, and store your login and apply the correct password during login. Additionally, some password managers are smart enough to make your login without your control. It’s some sort of small automation, isn’t it? Password managers could be paid as well as free. If you ask about the downside of using password managers, You can’t lose the master key. If you lost it, you would lose the whole set of things. We have listed some of the best password managers underneath, which we urge you to take a look at and, if possible, buy it.
4. A Personal USB Key:
Have you ever seen any hacking movie in which a guy will unlock and lock a computer just by plugging a small USB stick? If you have seen this, then you are correct. It isn’t that difficult to convert a regular USB drive into your password. Just visit Predator’s site. This program allows you to create a USB stick that can enable you to log in without typing a password and lock your computer when you pull out the device from the computer. This is not just the end. There are a plethora of options to explore and make use of it. Bear in mind that there is a serious caveat in this method. If you lose the USB stick, then you are going to lose access to the computer. Probably, you may need to flash the OS or break the password like a hacker. Don’t be scared if you lose the USB drive. We have some cool methods to recover the password.
5. SSH Key:
This method can’t be used as a substitute for local login. This authentication is not feasible for common use to log in to a personal laptop, phone, tablet, and smart TV. Authentication with SSH keys can be a little more complex to set up but helps increase security when logging into a cloud or remote server.
Let’s break this complex concept into a few simple things:
- First and foremost, you need to create a pair of keys. Public and Private keys. There are several ways to create a key pair.
- Keep the private key on your computer and transfer the public key to the remote computer you want to log into.
- When you attempt to log in, the server will check for the public key and then generate a random string and encrypt it using this public key. This encrypted message can only be decrypted with the associated private key.
- The server will send this encrypted message to your computer. Upon receipt of the message, your computer will decrypt it using the private key and send this message back to the server. If everything matches up, you’re good to go. A bit more involved than password authentication, Isn’t it?
In conclusion, we can list several types of authentication without typing a password, But that doesn’t mean there is no password at all. Where there is an authentication, there is a password, but in different forms. To answer which is the best password alternative for you. The easiest answer is all. That’s not fully correct either. The actual answer purely depends upon what system you have and which type of authentication your system supports.