Executive View

Beyond Identity Secure Work

Secure Work is a passwordless authentication solution that aims to enable zero trust and enforce device trust (i.e., ensuring the trustworthiness of a device for being authorized to access applications and data), while providing a strong multi-factor authentication and allowing access to only registered devices. Instead of using passwords, users rely on a device-bound certification for zero-friction passwordless authentication. The solution uses asymmetric cryptography in order to validate that each device is registered to a known and authorized user and an advanced authenticator to assess whether the security posture of the device meets security policy and compliance requirements.

Martin Kuppinger

mk@kuppingercole.com

Alejandro Leal

al@kuppingercole.com

1 Introduction

Passwords can easily be stolen, guessed, or compromised. Relying on passwords for security has become increasingly risky and problematic for organizations. End-user behavior can put at stake the security of computer and information systems. Numerous studies have shown that most data breaches involve the use of stolen credentials and compromised passwords, making them one of the weakest links in cybersecurity.

To understand why a passwordless solution has the potential to secure and enhance the IT systems of an organization, it is important to recognize why passwords are failing as an authentication system. In most cases, users use or reuse similar passwords across different platforms, increasing not only risk and vulnerability but also the possibility of password-based threats such as brute force attacks, social engineering attacks, and SIM swaps.

As a result, organizations are continuously seeking to address this fundamental security risk. The IT security community has long been aware of the fact that passwords provide little or no security at all as a means of authentication. Therefore, as remote work becomes more prevalent and cyberattacks continue to increase, preventing a password compromise is one of the main challenges organizations face today. In response, investment into cybersecurity has soared but, in most cases, these efforts have not fully addressed the reliance on passwords and the vulnerabilities they present.

The main problem of passwords in the workforce is the security risk they pose to the entire digital ecosystem of an organization. Furthermore, managing existing passwords within an organization can be burdensome, time-consuming, and costly. Since password elimination is recognized as a fundamental goal for the IT security industry, passwordless options are increasingly gaining popularity and widespread adoption. To minimize the reliance on passwords and the associated risk, the industry has been working for a long time on different technical solutions and standards.

However, many solutions claiming to be passwordless do not entirely eliminate passwords, but simply reduce the amount of passwords or add another insecure factor for authentication. Various solutions are still password-bound such as password managers, and legacy multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions, which utilize passwords as a factor in their authentication process. Solutions that are passwordless employ secure factors such as biometrics and are standard-based, such as FIDO.

Passwordless authentication solutions should provide a consistent login experience across all devices, introduce a frictionless user experience, include an integrated authentication approach, support industry standards, support access management products that use SAML or OIDC, and eliminate the dependence on passwords or other easily phishable factors, as an authentication method.

To stay competitive, secure, and compliant, organizations must actively seek newer ways of assessing and managing security risks without disrupting the users and the business. By removing passwords as an authentication method, organizations will end up with a modern authentication system that does not rely on users remembering passwords. If successfully implemented, the passwordless solution will add a significant layer to the overall security posture of the organization while providing a frictionless experience to the users. It increases both the level of security and the user convenience.


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