What Is User Authentication and How Does It Work? | #computerhacking | #hacking | #education | #technology | #infosec


Do you know that the more you digitize and automate your activities, the more you’re prone to data breaches? The rights we give up by entering our personal details on the internet are fast becoming a ruse by hackers to trick us into scams.

Most of us know by now that hackers often target high-profile companies to steal the personal data of millions of customers. And this is exactly why you need to take extra measures to protect your online accounts.

So, let’s start with the basics by discussing user authentication and how you can use it to solidify your cybersecurity.

What Is User Authentication?

Typing on Keyboard

The human-to-computer interactions on networks can either prevent or allow cyberattacks. To secure your web application, some measures are required to recognize and grant access to only authorized users. We refer to this process where the application identifies the user as user authentication.

User authentication is a security process that prevents unauthorized users from accessing your device or network. It’s a login procedure where an application requests personalized passwords to give you authorized access to it. If a user lacks the proper login rights to the network, their authentication fails.

User authentication operates on advanced technology. A hacker trying to force their way into the secured network would have to go high and above to bypass it. If there are other cybersecurity measures such as intrusion detection systems on the network, the attacker will be detected before they gain access.


Why Is User Authentication Important?

Holding iPhone in Hand

Targeting unsuspecting victims is the day job of cybercriminals. As an active online user, protecting your devices against unauthorized access is necessary to stay safe.

From shopping online to e-learning and connecting with peers, you leave digital footprints that hackers can trace and manipulate to compromise your device.

User authentication is effective in reducing cyber threats to the barest minimum. The antics of attackers only hold water if they get into your network. The authentication is like a barricade that locks them out. As long as it’s strong, they can’t pull it down.

User authentication enforces confidentiality, establishes trust, and guarantees privacy.

Visitors to your network will be willing to spend a minute or two on the authentication process along as it secures them from attacks.

How Does User Authentication Work?


From providing passcodes to presenting identification cards, user authentication ensures that the network or application access doesn’t fall into the wrong person’s hands. But how exactly does this work?

The first step is to input your login credentials on a login page or username and password bar.

The next step is to authenticate your login information. The authentication process starts when the server you are trying to access decrypts the personalized information it receives. This information is then compared with the credentials you have successfully keyed and stored in the database.

Finally, the computer either approves or declines the authentication request you made.

With user authentication, information inputted in the computer for verification is either approved or declined. In cases where the computer declines your request, it shows that you have either entered incorrect information or forgotten your passcode combination.

Depending on the settings, you might have a chance to initiate another request or get blocked from accessing the web application you verify your identity.

How to Improve User Authentication

Young Man Smiling on Computer Device

There’s confidence in knowing that intruders can’t access your network without your permission. You may not be physically present to grant or deny them access, but you can do that by implementing user authentication.

Let’s look at some ways to make that happen.

1. Create Strong Passwords

Passwords play a significant role in cybersecurity. They are the keys to your accounts. Without the proper passwords, you lose the right to access your accounts.

Is the data in your network valuable? If the answer is yes, you can’t afford to use weak passwords. Doing that is a prerequisite for disaster. When hackers come knowing, they’ll easily make their way in.

Although hackers have devised ways to beat network passwords with techniques such as brute force to guess the correct passwords, stronger passwords are a hard nut to crack. They have to try harder.

Effective passwords come in different forms. For example, a good password is a mix of alphabets with a minimum of 8 characters and a maximum of 12 characters in length. Keep it moderate.

Make your password even more robust with a combination of numbers, upper and lower case alphabets, and symbols. Your password shouldn’t be rigid, as they are often easy to predict.

Avoid the repetition of passwords on multiple platforms. Create a strong and unique password for every account. If one account is compromised, it has nothing on the others with different passwords.

2. Use a Passcode Manager

Managing the passwords of multiple accounts isn’t always easy. As humans, we tend to forget them or expose them to the wrong people. Adopting a password manager is your best bet in this case.

A password manager serves as a secure briefcase that keeps track of all your passwords and those of your team. You don’t have to worry about recalling your passwords, as the manager does that for you when needed.

Among all the passcodes in the password manager, there’s a primary password that the password manager can’t retrieve, and that’s the master password. It’s a security measure to mitigate damages just in case cybercriminals get a hold of your password manager.

Although you’ll find free password managers out there, they don’t always have the best security features. The most effective password managers are those readily available for a fee. They offer several advanced features to enhance password security.

3. Use Multi-Layer Authentication

Multifactor authentication provides an additional layer of protection for you and your team. It ensures that all social and official accounts are secure as users have to go through more verification to come in.

One stand-out feature of multifactor authentication is that, apart from using your passcodes, it also requires that you use biometrics such as the fingerprint or the much-advanced eye or facial scan to grant access to verified requests.

Related: What Is Two-Factor Authentication? Here’s Why You Should Be Using It

Complement User Authentication for Best Results

Your digital presence is interconnected from personal computers to smartphones and social media accounts. A breach on one account can be a breach on all accounts without strong security.

Cyberattackers are hell-bent on hacking systems at all costs. A single security resistance makes their job a lot easier. Yes, user authentication is effective, but complement it with multiple defenses to get the most of your cybersecurity. Whoever is trying to break into your network will get tired when they have to jump too many hurdles.

padlock on a laptop signifying authentication
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