When most of our personal and business information is stored online, data security becomes a major concern. This is especially true for B2B services; your financial and identifying information, and that of any business associates you work with, are at risk every time you access an account for social media, digital banking, business software, or any other online space.
One of the most basic methods of protecting our accounts is through the use of traditional passwords. However, passwords are far from foolproof; in fact, research has shown that they can be easily compromised, leaving our sensitive information vulnerable to online threats.
There are many ways traditional passwords fall short, so let’s explore those disadvantages and some effective alternatives to ensure the safety of our data.
What Traditional Passwords Get Wrong
Account authentication usually consists of an identifying name or email paired with a unique password consisting of letters, numbers, and special characters. Typical internet safety advice recommends having a unique password for every account you manage. It’s also recommended that passwords be longer, not be related to your personal life, and be randomized with a variety of special characters to make them more difficult to crack.
That being said, traditional passwords are susceptible to many kinds of security failures including
- Codebreaker programs
- Phishing scams
- Over-the-shoulder password recording
Beyond this, having many unique passwords can make managing them more complicated and confusing over time. Many people choose to use password management programs or even physical password logbooks, which can leave them susceptible to massive security breaches across platforms.
For B2B services, passwords often protect confidential client information including industry secrets and customer analytics. If a password protecting this data is compromised, the security of not just one but two businesses and potentially thousands of individuals can be open to use by bad actors. This can leave both businesses vulnerable to manipulation and legal action, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue loss and a massive blow to reputations and customer trust. Oftentimes, it’s not a stretch to say that B2B service integrity relies on data security to keep the business from falling under.
How Traditional Passwords Fail by Numbers
According to a study done by Verison in 2022, 81% of data breaches related to hacking could be attributed to poor credential strength, meaning that passwords were either stolen or cracked due to a lack of complexity. Additionally, in the 2023 follow-up study, this number was down to roughly 49%, but the number of breaches that involved human elements – phishing and other emotional or manipulative scams, misuse of privileged information, and errors – was 74%. They note that a whopping 95% of these attacks were financially driven.
For businesses especially, data breaches have been at an all-time high in 2023. According to information from IBM, it can take on average 287 days to detect and appropriately manage a data breach due to the advancing sophistication of attacks and complex IT environments, among other factors. Additionally, upwards of 50% of IT professionals are concerned about the security risks posed by remote work due to the more widespread digital atmosphere created by remote desktops and other long-distance communication software.
Additionally, according to a press release from NordPass in 2020, people on average use 70-80 passwords each, and typically use common patterns like the names of family members or celebrities, important dates in their lives, and similar symbols. In fact, in 2019, the company published a list of the 200 most commonly used passwords, of which the top 10 were, embarrassingly,
Nordpass notes that having good password hygiene – using unique, complex passwords for every account you have, employing multi-factor authentication, utilizing password managers, regular monitoring, and updating passwords in the event of suspicious activity – is vital to keeping your personal information, identity, and assets safe. That last point, changing passwords after suspicious activity, is especially important, as a survey from Google in 2019 noted that upwards of 60% of Americans do not change their passwords after a data-compromising event has been identified, leaving them open to future and more intense attacks.
Effective Alternatives to Traditional Passwords
There are many modern alternatives to traditional passwords, most of which can be used in conjunction with passwords to form multi-factor authentication (MFA), a layered security system that requires users to have alternative identifying information to access their accounts. Some different forms of authentication include
- Biometric data such as facial recognition or fingerprinting
- Personal information in the form of security questions
- Alternative devices such as codes or verification screens sent to phones or tablets
- Alternative accounts such as codes sent to additional emails, phone numbers, or social media
One new and effective security measure to consider is Photolok, a technology developed by Netlok. With Photolok, users select a series of photos to connect to their accounts as identifiers – either as long-term passes or one-time-use authenticators. When a user inputs their credentials, they’ll be prompted to pick their photo from a grid of images before they can access their information.
Photolok also offers a duress option – choosing an image labeled as “duress” will give users access to their information, but it will also send a silent alert to the appropriate authorities to inform them that the user was forced to log in unwillingly and there may be a security breach in progress. This keeps users safe in hostile situations while still protecting data.
In an era when our entire lives are stored in the digital space, keeping your personal or client information safe online has become a key part of personal and business responsibility. Traditional passwords are no longer enough to ensure that your data is safe. Backing up your credentials with MFA, especially using newer and more advanced methods like Photolok, can help prevent you from falling victim to fraud.
To learn more about Photolok, you can schedule a demo from their team.