Authentication has taken many forms throughout history. From early signals and passphrases delivered verbally, to the emergence of various password approaches and beyond – weaknesses within each of these methods were quickly uncovered, calling for additional security adjustments in subsequent iterations. Why does all this matter? In order to understand the critical role digital authentication plays in both corporate and personal security today – and gain insight into what the future of this technology will look like – it’s important to first examine how and why it has evolved over time.
This is exactly what Corey Nachreiner writes about his latest column for GeekWire. In the article, Corey delineates the history of authentication – decade by decade – exploring all the major authentication developments and advancements that have changed the way we work and live along the way. He covers early passwords, public-key cryptography, one-time password (OTP) technology and more, all leading up to the global adoption of advanced multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions we’re experiencing today. Here’s a quick excerpt from the article:
“When used properly, following very diligent security practices, passwords are a decent authentication factor. The problem is that most humans don’t follow the arduous best practices, while many organizations that manage passwords don’t follow good practices themselves. The result of this password mishandling was countless password database leaks over the past few decades which have proven that passwords alone are insufficient to protect our online identities.
MFA could help solve this problem, but until this point the technologies and alternatives for authentication were forbiddingly expensive or complex.
That’s where smartphones came in and enabled the future of authentication. In the 2010s, the ubiquitous nature of smartphones brought two previously less-attainable authentication technologies to the masses: biometrics and 2FA.”
To learn more about how authentication has evolved through the ages, read the complete article on GeekWire. And check out this report for an in-depth look at the state of password security and the rise of multi-factor authentication.