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4 Benefits of Passwordless Authentication

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Passwordless authentication is critical to minimizing the risks of password-related data breaches and improving the overall user experience for applications. In 2021 alone, 80% of basic web application attacks were attributed to the use of stolen credentials, emphasizing the need for these protections. 

A survey showed that 90% of IT leaders are willing to adopt these solutions for their security, cost-efficiency, and ease of use. Below, we’ll dive into the top passwordless authentication benefits. 

#1 Improved security

Passwords are one of the most common targets for cyberattacks and data breaches. They can be easily guessed, stolen, or compromised through various methods such as:

So the biggest security benefit of passwordless authentication is the elimination of passwords as a potential vulnerability, thus reducing the risk of password-related security incidents.

Passwordless authentication can also offer stronger multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanisms. MFA can significantly improve security by making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access even if they manage to steal one of the authentication factors.

It should be noted that different passwordless authentication methods have different levels of security. For instance, while SMS authentication can be compromised via attacks like SIM swapping and man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, biometric authentication based on standards like WebAuthn and FIDO2 is virtually unphishable.

#2 Lower long-term costs

While adopting passwordless authentication might require some upfront investment, it pays off in the long run. 

  • Lower costs of security breaches – In the event of a security breach or cyber attack, the costs associated with remediation, legal fees, and damage to reputation can be substantial. With passwordless authentication, organizations can reduce the likelihood and impact of such incidents, resulting in lower long-term costs.

  • Better scalability – Passwordless authentication can be more scalable than traditional password-based authentication. This is because it eliminates the need for organizations to store and manage user credentials. As they grow and the number of users increases, passwordless authentication can help keep costs in check by providing a more streamlined authentication process.

  • Decreased support costs – Passwordless authentication can significantly reduce the number of support requests related to password resets and troubleshooting, which in turn reduces the burden on support teams and related operational costs.

  • Reduced customer acquisition and retention costs – Passwords are a well-known cause of user churn and drop-offs. In a study conducted by Baymard Institute, more than 18% of Amazon and ASOS users abandoned their cart due to forgotten passwords or clunky reset processes. Adopting passwordless authentication makes it more likely that users return to an application since they are not dealing with the cognitive load of having to remember their password.

#3 Compliance with regulatory bodies

Depending on your unique industry, you will likely be required to comply with the regulations protecting users’ sensitive account credentials against cybersecurity threats.

For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-63B requires organizations to implement industry-standard access controls to protect sensitive data environments. Such controls include password encryption, hashing, and multi-factor authentication.

Although these access controls are effective, passwordless authentication goes a step further. When combined with measures such as secure session management and automatic bot detection, passwordless authentication prevents broken authentication attacks from unfolding. 

#4 Better user experience

When developing any application that will meet users’ needs, user experience quality matters. Passwordless authentication contributes to the overall application UX, right from opening the app to navigating it and, finally, securely closing it.

Easier to set up

Passwordless authentication involves fewer steps to set up than the traditional password-based one. Unlike the cumbersome password setup process that often leaves users feeling frustrated, passwordless authentication simplifies user onboarding.

On the developer side, it may seem easier to add password-based authentication rather than learning standards such as OAuth, WebAuthn, and SAML to add other authentication methods. However, there are authentication platforms that make it easy to add, modify and update authentication flows to applications. This makes it much easier to control how users first sign up to your business application.

Increased conversion rate

An application that provides a convenient and friendly UX translates into a much higher conversion rate. With passwordless authentication, users are less likely to be frustrated by the hurdles they typically face when signing up or logging in to password-based applications.

By removing the multi-step process to create complex passwords, and then re-entering them upon every login, organizations reduce the likelihood of users abandoning their intended action due to frustration with the authentication process.

No need to remember multiple passwords

Most people use the same password or variations of it across multiple accounts. But since this is a bad security practice, applications go to great lengths to make users create different, unique and hard-to-decipher passwords.

And what happens most often is that users forget their passwords, and then need to reset them – creating one more password to remember. Passwordless authentication changes this trend by completely removing the burden of remembering multiple passwords and simplifying the login experience for both customers and application developers. 

Take full advantage of passwordless authentication

Between better security, improved user experience, and cost benefits of passwordless authentication, there’s no excuse to continue using traditional passwords for your application. Eliminating the need for passwords simplifies application security, enables users to enjoy interacting with your service, and allows your team to build scalable solutions.  

To experience the benefits of passwordless authentication first-hand, sign up for Descope. Our drag-and-drop workflows, SDKs, and APIs make it easy for developers to add authentication and user management for any application.