What is continual authentication? Why does it matter so much for modern cybersecurity, especially for businesses?
When we think of authentication, typically we think of the initial login stage. Users come to the login portal and try to enter. Either they provide the correct credentials or they don’t. To the casual observer, it seems straightforward; even multifactor authentication doesn’t appear or feel that much more complicated.
Of course, anything “straightforward” in cybersecurity should immediately raise alarm bells in your mind. Initial authentication can’t provide the only layer of identity management security if you want your business to remain cyber-secure.
You need continual authentication. Here’s why.
What Continual Authentication Offers Your Business
Why It Matters
First, we must emphasize the importance of instituting multifactor authentication at the login stage. The more factors between the access request and the IT environment, the safer your network remains. Moreover, these factors do not need to interrupt workflows, as many of these factors operate under the surface. It’s an excellent way to balance efficiency and cybersecurity.
However, no login security can offer one hundred percent safety against all cyber-attacks. Unfortunately, with enough time and resources, hackers could find a way to brute force or circumvent all of the authentication factors.
Usually, this involves stealing a user’s credentials, whether by credential stuffing, phishing attack, or by other means. Once a hacker is inside, few enterprises have the tools or the means to detect and remove them. After all, they have disguised themselves as regular users. The system is looking for explicit intruders.
So without some kind of answer, hackers could operate with total impunity. The damage they could wreak could become catastrophic, compounded by the damage done through dwell time. In fact, an attack could go on for months before discovery and remediation could even begin.
Continual authentication works to counteract this problem by monitoring every user even after the initial login. Here’s how that works.
How It Works
Continual authentication first establishes a baseline set of behaviors for every user and entity entering and operating on the network. It observes how they conduct workflows, how they access databases, and how they communicate with other users.
Hackers can replicate many authentication factors, but they can’t replicate the behaviors of the users. Thus they reveal themselves as imposters, enabling prompt investigation and remediation.
Additionally, with behavioral biometrics deployed, enterprises can probe even deeper into their users’ activities. For example, it can track users’ typing behaviors, which are often more distinct than fingerprints. No two people have the same typing behaviors, and no hacker could guess how their victim might type.
Ultimately, continual authentication provides a critical extra layer of cybersecurity and identity management for the modern age. If your enterprise still lacks this kind of security monitoring, it’s time to find a solution that can offer it. You can learn more in the Solutions Review Identity Management Buyer’s Guide. You can also try the Solutions Suggestion Engine. It matches use cases to IAM vendor-created profiles in mere seconds.