Securing the Cloud With Biometric Data
Organizations must ensure remote access is straightforward and efficient to maintain the cloud’s benefits, but authenticating remote users often relies on insufficient protections like passwords. Biometric data may be the solution.
Cloud security can be a challenging balancing act. Organizations must ensure remote access is straightforward and efficient to maintain the cloud’s benefits, but authenticating remote users often relies on insufficient protections like passwords. Biometric data may be the solution.
Biometrics has already become the dominant authentication method for smartphones in the form of fingerprint and facial recognition. Implementing similar systems in the cloud can help improve security without compromising efficiency.
Here are five ways that companies could secure their cloud systems with biometric data.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a common and effective part of cloud security. According to Microsoft, MFA blocks 99.9% of automated attacks, but traditional MFA methods can be inefficient. Waiting to get a one-time authorization code slows access, hindering a remote worker’s productivity.
Using biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition instead can streamline the process. A biometric security gate could pop up the second a user enters their password, and these processes typically work in a matter of seconds. As a result, securing accounts through MFA would take less time while ensuring the same security.
Replacing Passwords With Biometric ID
Biometric authentication methods could also replace passwords altogether. Despite being the most common way to secure an account, passwords themselves are often unsecure. Many employees reuse passwords for cloud access and other systems, making it easier for cybercriminals to obtain or guess them.
If companies hope to secure their cloud data, they must move away from these breach-prone authentication methods. If an employee’s passwords leak in a data breach, it won’t affect a cloud system that uses biometric authentication instead. Using biometrics also prevents issues from workers forgetting passwords.
Preventing Fraud Through Behavioral Biometrics
While physical authentication like fingerprint recognition may be the most familiar example of biometrics, it’s not the only one. Biometrics can also include behavioral data like a user’s unique keystroke patterns or typing speed. These authentication methods are more complex and take longer to implement, but they can help spot potential breaches.
Behavioral analytics systems can learn how different employees act on a company’s cloud systems. As they learn, they’ll be able to spot abnormal behavior, which could indicate someone else using a worker’s account. These systems could then temporarily restrict that account’s access, preventing hackers from accessing sensitive files.
Combining Multiple Biometric Methods
To ensure utmost cloud security, organizations could use multiple biometric authentication methods. It can be easier to fool behavioral analytics than physical biometrics, but fingerprint or facial ID data could potentially leak. Using a combination of methods instead of one or the other mitigates these concerns.
Just as one-time passcodes tighten password security, one biometric authentication method bolsters another. Companies could use MFA with two or more biometric systems, taking these methods’ already impressive security benefits further.
Reducing Data Breach Risks in Offboarding
Offboarding users is an often overlooked but critical part of cloud security. Many organizations, often unintentionally, keep old users’ accounts active after they’ve gone, so credential stuffing or leaked passwords from these old users can still pose a threat. Biometrics makes these breaches far less likely.
Biometric data takes up less server space than traditional methods like passwords, making offboarding a faster, easier process. Consequently, teams can deactivate old accounts before they forget, reducing the risk of a breach. Even if they don’t, most sites don’t use biometric data, so it’s unlikely that a data breach elsewhere will give hackers access to these accounts.
Cloud Security Requires Tighter Access Controls
The rise of cloud computing has pushed businesses’ perimeters to the edges. Securing data in these environments is mostly a matter of tightening account access, requiring better identification methods.
Traditional authentication methods are too vulnerable and unreliable to be sufficient for cloud security. Biometrics eliminates many of these concerns, from reducing the threat of human error to streamlining security. As companies move more sensitive data to the cloud, these benefits may soon become necessities.
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Devin Partida is a technology and cybersecurity writer whose work has been published on many industry publications, including AT&T's Cybersecurity blog, AOL and Entrepreneur.
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