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4 min read

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November 7, 2022

An Overview on Remote User Authentication

Remote user authentication is a process of verifying users remotely over an insecure communication channel. To know more about its working, pros and cons, click here!

For any organization, access management holds immense importance. During the pandemic organizations across the world switched overnight to modern access management systems for remote user authentication. 

Remote user authentication, the process of verifying users remotely to grant access to the organization’s system over a network, is now widespread. Hybrid work and the growing adoption of modern unified communication tools have just accelerated its growth. Nearly all businesses today have clients and employees interacting remotely through a network. 

Still, many companies have fallen prey to unauthorized access debacles. It is necessary to vet the identity of remote users gaining access to the system. Among the attack vectors, security leaders do not really view employee or internal incidents as top threats. Though research suggests the frequency of breaches is evenly spread.  With breaches increasing in frequency due to remote work, it is important to reassess remote user authentication methods.  

How does remote user authentication work

To thwart such attempts, many companies deploy an array of security measures. From passwords and OTPs to biometrics, in recent years organizations have beefed up security using multi-factor authentication methods. 

Usually, the remote user authentication method comprises:

  1. Identification (Step 1): The user needs to perform certain identity verification activities, like face authentication, fingerprint scan, voice authentication, password verification, etc. This step is the first and is often clubbed with other identification methods for better security.
  1. Verification (Step 2): In this step, the information generated is matched with records to ascertain the identity presented in Step 1. 

The means of authenticating a user can be:

  1. User knowledge: passwords, answers to specific questions, PIN or OTP.
  2. Organization-issued assets: smart cards, cryptographic keys, physical keys. 
  3. Biometric features: face, retina, fingerprints   
  4. Biometric characters: Voice recognition, typing rhythm, handwriting

In a Statista survey last year, 28% of respondents from the US and Europe said that multi-factor authentication for endpoints and servers is used more frequently to secure a hybrid workforce.

Here’s a breakdown of ways how companies are deploying remote work security protocols. 

Source: Statista

Advantages of remote user authentication

For your organization, the best solution will deliver the appropriate level of security, and high completion rates, and will be inclusive to the largest number of customers or citizens.

  1. Quick access

Remote access allows quick access to systems and files through a network connection. 

  1. Cost- effective: Remote authentication is a cost- effective method for distributed teams, and to onboard vendors and contractual workers. With the surge in third-party remote authentication vendors, remote authentication technology has advanced. Companies can now support different devices for remote user authentication. Location is not a constraint.
  1. Secure: Remote user authentication extends security to the organizational systems by ascertaining the identity of users off-site. Even for customers and clients, a robust remote authentication method guarantees that the user is genuine, abating risks of fraud. 
  1. Private: Today’s modern authentication methods afford privacy. There are many methods of remote user authentication that companies can deploy. They can choose the most suitable framework considering their user privacy. 
  1.  Convenience: Remote user authentication makes it easy for companies to employ remote talent, or communicate with third parties securely. 

Drawbacks of remote user authentication

  1. Detecting threats 

Even though remote user authentication offers convenience in the form of easy onboarding, customer sign-ins, and contract workers’ access, it is not easy to remotely keep a check on everyone. 

Security teams need to a monitor host of endpoints and devices for threats that can target remote users and in particular identify an attacker gaining access to the network. Due to the increasing number of users detecting, the visibility to detect advanced threats is often overlooked.

  1. New devices, new threats

The marketplace for remote work devices has burgeoned suddenly. Users are deploying new and advanced devices for endpoints at home that are sometimes unsecured too. New devices pose own unique challenges for security teams.

  1. Network dependent

Most organizations have a stable network infrastructure for on-premise set up. However, it is not always feasible to obtain the same level of network reliability and security at home or in remote work.  

Conclusion

Remote user authentication is the need of the hour. Most of the organizations, despite their size, nowadays have a sizeable remote workforce. Other than this, customers and clients also form a chunk of remote users, who want ease and convenience in accessing their accounts and performing various day-to- day tasks. Embedded tools, third-party services, and a host of other options have emerged for secure user authentication. It is always better to use a trusted vendor for any of the tasks – document verification while remote onboarding, biometrics for user verification. 

FAQs

What is the most common form of remote user authentication?
One of the most commonly used methods of remote user authentication is password or OTP. The password is a user knowledge-based authentication method and OTP is a system-generated password framework for individuals.
What is the best way to authenticate users?
There are many authentication methods, however, the organization should deploy the suitability of a framework depending upon its needs, user activity, and type of transactions. Some authentication methods include biometrics, SMS-based OTPs, QR codes, push notifications, fingerprint scans, and facial recognition among others.
What is a user authentication protocol?
A user authentication protocol is a set of rules that helps the server to vet the user identity. It is part of network authentication efforts to keep a tab on the users accessing the network.
How do you authenticate a login?
In most cases, the user during log in requests the web server to allow him access. A prompt will appear requesting the user name and password. Once the user name and password are keyed-in, the server will verify the credentials and return the requested resource.
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