What is user authentication and how to improve its security

What is user authentication

Human-computer interactions on networks to secure a web application require some measures to recognize and grant access only to authorized users.

The user authentication we can define it as a security process that prevents unauthorized users from accessing a device or network. We find ourselves with a login procedure where an application asks us for our password to give us access. In the event that a user does not put their established password, the authentication fails.

The daily job of cybercriminals is to target unsuspecting and unprepared victims. We as active online users have to protect our devices against unauthorized access. In that aspect, user authentication is effective in reducing cyber threats to a minimum. Cybercriminal attacks are only successful if they break into our network. Authentication is like a defense barrier that blocks these attackers, and also establishes trust and guarantees the privacy of users.

How authentication works

User authentication will guarantee that access to the network of that application that we enter through an account does not fall into the hands of cybercriminals.

Its way of operating consists in the first place in entering your login credentials on a home screen where we will have to enter our username and password. The next phase will be to authenticate our login information. This process begins when the server we are trying to access receives the personalized information that we have sent to it. This information is then compared to the credentials that we have successfully entered and stored in the database. The computer then approves the access if the data matches the database or rejects the request if it is not correct.

Thanks to user authentication, the information entered for verification is approved or rejected. If our request is rejected, it will display a message telling us that we have entered incorrect information or that we have forgotten the password. Also depending on your settings, we may have the opportunity to initiate another request or have access to that account blocked. Sometimes they also offer an option to recover that password through an email that we have established or another means.

Improve user authentication

Our first line of defense is our password and we must protect it appropriately. Therefore, our first goal is going to be to create a strong password. In that aspect we must look for a minimum of 12 characters. Here we must include upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols such as @. This without forgetting that we must not reuse them for other accounts and that we must change them periodically.

On the other hand, since we have to manage more and more passwords we should use a password manager. A very common and widespread practice that should not be done is to write them down on paper or in a plain text file. An example to manage our passwords safely could be Passwarden, a free and secure password manager.

Finally, to improve user authentication we can use multi-factor authentication. Thus, in the hypothetical case that they obtain our password, they will not be able to log in because they cannot carry out that second mandatory step and therefore we will be safe.

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