The Significant Benefits Of Attribute-Based Authentication

    In the workplace, every employee logs into several apps and websites these days when trying to get things done. But it is cumbersome to recall so many lengthy passwords. In general, people don’t want to keep complicated passwords; they tend to be boring. The few whose identities have been stolen in the past, however, know the true importance of security and privacy.

    As a result, workers unwillingly create long passwords, use a password manager, or enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) because they are not considered to be of observable value. In the sign-in process, doing so causes friction. In the case of authentication, friction is not one-sided. It goes beyond attackers who are trying to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive information-rich user accounts, IT applications, and databases. And while security teams have attempted in the past to introduce more power into the system for access control, they have been met with resistance.

    Passwords: The Starting Point

    Mandatory 2FA/MFA policies and employee password managers have been successfully adopted by some organizations, realizing the grim reality of the data protection threat climate, but due to the aforementioned friction issues, acceptance rates for these security changes remain low. Consequently, these businesses are back to where they started, leaving large gaps in user authentication and automated system access. The simpler it is for employees/customers/authorized users to access accounts, the easier it is for cybercriminals to strike. When they are in, all kinds of damage can be done by attackers across business networks. Also, it is not a choice to do nothing. Many security teams, however, feel trapped between trying to insist on the highest safety practices and bowing to the pressure of low-friction authentication.

    Attribute-Based Authentication

    The key advantage of behavioral and attribute-based authentication is that it works smoothly without deliberate effort on the part of the user in the context. It, in essence, eliminates the security burden from the user and puts it back in the security team’s possession. The initial login for the username + password combination can remain. Nevertheless, the first login is the very first protection layer, not the last or final word on access control.

    In the decision to allow system access in an attribute-/behavior-based authentication setting, additional variables are often taken into account: operating system, BIOS UUID, patch levels, trends for when the user/system resource accesses other system resources (normal/expected vs. abnormal/unexpected), patterns of how a user/system resource accesses various system resources. The use of additional variables in authentication decisions reduces the risk that attackers will grab and transform “what you know” bits (i.e., username + password) into a compromise with the device. Decisions utilizing an aggregate of attributes (e.g., cryptographic identification, habits, and patterns) that are extremely difficult to replicate pave the way for greater protection without creating friction.

    Another value of behavior-/attribute-based authentication is persistence. Attributes and actions are inextricably related to devices’ tools. That is to say, they should not be abstracted from what/who is attempting to communicate. Not only does this lead to better credentials, but it also ensures that systems can be programmed to continuously validate access, again, without needing information to be entered by a human being. Credentials are a blend of what an entity really is (identity) and how it functions, and permissible access depends on the network by which the entity attempts to interact (environment) and what the entity is trying to do (transaction).


    Fully automated, such identity and access management uses some form of machine learning to constantly enhance the accuracy of authenticating tools. In comparison to typing a username/password combination, then theoretically entering a secondary code, token, or biometric, authentication based on attributes is invisible to the user and is less likely to be vetoed as too invasive by the executive team. 

    As a result, security teams can improve authentication without having to persuade anyone to change policies. It is transparent, smooth, and frictionless. This strengthens information security and user experience.

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