Pros and Cons Using Passwordless Authentications

Passwordless authentication is a method of verifying a user's identity without requiring them to provide a password. Instead of using passwords, passwordless uses more secure alternatives such as possession factors (one-time passwords (OTP), registered devices), or biometrics (fingerprint, retina scans). However, the existence of passwordless authentication on the one hand has a positive impact but also has a significant negative impact. For more details, see the following article.
March 17, 2022

Passwordless authentication, also known as password-free authentication, eliminates the need for users to enter passwords during the verification process. Instead, they must produce another type of proof that verifies their identity, such as: To complete the authentication procedure, you'll need an OTP, Secret PIN, SMS or app-generated codes, PKI-based (public key infrastructure) personal authentication certificates, or biometrics.

Using brute force assaults, hackers can steal or guess passwords. They can even purchase lists of compromised credentials on the dark web or obtain them using malware. If you're a business owner, you may use passwordless authentication methods on your websites, applications, software, and workplace devices to improve security and give consumers and employees a more seamless login experience.

However, the presence of passwordless authentication provides many pros and cons that are growing. What is it more like? Read the following article.

The Pros Using Passwordless Authentication

  1. Authentication without a password improves the user experience.

According to NordPass, the average user has 70 to 80 passwords. As you can imagine, creating a tough password, much alone memorizing 80 different passwords, is quite difficult for the typical individual. Passwordless authentication eliminates the requirement for users to come up with and remember strong passwords. There is no need to memorize any more passwords.

Users may enjoy a pleasant and stress-free experience with passwordless authentication. To receive a new one-time password or PIN (OTP), link, or generated token code, they simply need to provide their user ID or phone number. In some password authentication smartphone apps, a biometric (such as their fingerprint, face, or retinal scan) is sufficient for authentication, which is faster and more convenient.

  1. Security from theft of passwords

Because passwords are no longer part of the equation with passwordless authentication, you, as a website owner or employer, don't have to worry about password theft or data breaches caused by password compromises. OTPs and "magic links" are more secure than many passwords for public-facing websites.

The usage of a compromised, leaked, or stolen password is no longer a concern with passwordless authentication. Although passwordless authentication isn't infallible, it's frequently more secure than using a password alone.

  1. Protect From Brute-Force Attacks

Passwordless authentication aids in the prevention of brute force assaults on websites. A brute force assault is essentially a trial-and-error method of password guessing. To grasp this concept, you must first comprehend how brute force attacks function.

A hacker uses a malicious script to infect a website's login field in a brute-force assault. The software enters random passwords one by one until it finds matching password and username combinations (frequently from the hacker's database of pre-guessed user IDs and passwords).

Web administrators typically set the limited login attempt option to protect websites from brute force assaults. For a given period of time, this function freezes the user ID or IP address linked with the login attempt (such as after three to five failed login attempts). However, there are ways for attackers to get around the "limit login attempt" functionality.

  1. Your organization's cyber security posture is strengthened with passwordless authentication.

If an employee's password is exposed (and the attacker has access to the accounts that those compromised credentials can access), the attacker can: Obtain network access to the company (and other devices connected to it), View and/or send messages from email accounts, Obtain access to confidential files and information, Commit financial espionage, Listen in on internal conversations, To smear the company's reputation, send unpleasant messages via the company's social media page, Leak trade secrets or wreak havoc on the general public.

When you use strong passwordless authentication solutions like PKI client certificates and hardware tokens, you can be assured that only authorized staff have access to sensitive accounts and hardware (laptops, PCs, cellphones).

This authentication method uses digital certificates to authenticate users to servers and relies on public key infrastructure, which is the backbone of secure internet communications. There are no passwords, OTPs, PINs, or other security measures required. These secrets are easily replaced with digital certificates on employees' devices, which are then used to automatically authenticate users.

  1. In the long run, passwordless security helps to save money.

Over time, passwordless authentication systems tend to lower overall security expenses. A business does not need to spend money on password administration, storage, or resets. It frees up time in the IT department since it eliminates the need to define password policies and instead focuses on ensuring compliance with password storage laws and regulations. They don't have to be on the lookout for and preventing password leaks all of the time.

The Cons Using Passwordless Authentication

  1. Users are unable to be protected in the event of device theft or SIM swapping.

We’re in big danger if someone steals your phone or if you lose it. If an attacker gains access to your smartphone, they can intercept all OTPs, PINs, and magic links generated on the apps or delivered via email or SMS text messages. The perpetrator can't connect to the apps unless they know the password with password-based authentication. As a result, if a user's device is stolen or otherwise accessed, passwordless authentication may be riskier than typical password-based authentication.

As an example, consider a SIM swapping attack. SIM swapping occurs when a mobile service provider (carrier) is tricked or manipulated into transferring your SIM card to them. This frequently involves cybercriminals:

Pretending to be you, falsely stating that your SIM card has been lost, and obtaining a replacement SIM card with the same phone number (transferring your number to their device). If the attack is successful, the culprit can intercept all of your SMS messages and gain access to all of the apps that use SMS-based OTP authentication.

  1. Biometrics Aren't 100% Reliable

By providing photographs or videos of the original user, utilizing machine learning to create morphing images of the targeted target, or using sound from audio recordings or videos for voice cloning, hackers can trick passwordless security equipment. It's even possible to get around fingerprint locks. We are living in incredible times in terms of what technology can accomplish. When technology falls into the wrong hands, though, it may be plain terrifying.

  1. Users are hesitant to trust technology that does not require a password.

Computer passwords were first introduced at MIT in the 1960s and have since become an important part of authentication and security. Most of us have enabled password autofill (auto-login) for our email accounts, programs, and websites. Password managers are used by some people to create and manage a large number of complicated passwords without having to remember them.

As you may expect, these shortcuts make the authentication procedure simple and quick. However, they are less well-known than standard password-based security, which might be frightening. Some people are averse to this move since some passwordless authentication solutions require users to provide a new OTP or PIN each time they use it.

Auto-fill passwords make it easier for employees to access a vast variety of apps, resources, and software on a daily basis in an organizational setting. However, requiring employees to authenticate themselves every time they need to access something by supplying OTPs or scanning their fingerprints can quickly become inconvenient.

  1. Implementation Costs Can Be Expensive (Depending on the Solution)

Investing in new passwordless software and hardware infrastructure, like any other technology, can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you have a large client base and numerous employees. The software/applications that enable OTP/magic link functionality on your website might cost anything per month (depending on the service provider and how often it's used). And if an employee loses their hardware device, token, card, or other piece of equipment, the employer must replace it. In some circumstances, this can be more expensive than merely resetting the passwords.

  1. Certain types of malware aren't protected by passwordless authentication.

Some viruses intended specifically for spyware assaults can capture screenshots and record everything that happens on the device's screen. As a result, if OTP-based passwordless authentication is enabled, the spyware can intercept the OTP.

A man-in-the-browser (MitB) attack is another serious sort of cyber assault against passwordless authentication. The attacker injects a specific malware into the web browser at this point. This trojan not only intercepts all data sent and received (including your OTPs, PINs, and other personal information), but it also alters the appearance of the browser, website, form fields, login fields, and website answers. To make matters worse, it has the capability of deleting all transaction records.


People are using an increasing number of various internet services in their daily lives, and each service requires identification. As a result, you must remember your username and password for each service. Even if the login for each service is the same (for example, email), the password for each service must be different. It is far preferable to use a complex password, which is defined as one that is at least 8 characters long and contains uppercase and lowercase letters, digits, and special characters.

Of course, remembering a complex password for each service is impossible, so customers either use simple passwords or use the same password for all services. This issue could be solved with passwordless authentication.

All of the strategies listed above have pros and cons. However, using different ways for a better user experience is recommended. For instance, to allow users to log in using OAuth or OpenID and a saved cookie. Authentication using mobile phone biometrics, such as fingerprint or facial recognition authentication, is also a promising and secure solution.

Adopted from : Sectigostore

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