With more and more services being provided over the internet everyday, online security has become one of the primary concerns of customers who make transactions on the web. The vendors that have the most reliable security measures in place are trusted more, and so they get more business.
The process of preventing data breaches, and establishing trust online, involves a series of measures that must be put in place. The terms verification and authentication are both used in the context of granting access and preventing fraudulent activity, and are considered interchangeable, but in practice these are two different processes.
Let’s understand how verification and authentication differ from each other when it comes to online security.
Verification is the process of making sure that the system is interacting with a valid entity. It entails verifying the user’s provided information with a third party to ensure their identity. This could be a link sent to the provided email address, or by sending you a code to your personal phone. Verification can be seen as the system making sure you are who you say you are.
Verification is typically performed when a person first joins a system. For example, if you want to use an application on your phone, it may require you to sign up using an email address. That email ID will receive a link, which will need to be clicked to show the system that you have access to the account you say you own.
From that point onward, you may be asked to set up a username, password, or some other form of authentication.
Authentication is what happens every time a user signs back into a system they previously registered for. Using the credentials that the user set up at the time of registration, the system ensures that the correct person is accessing the system, as opposed to a fraudster, or identity thief. Authentication could be as simple as asking for a username and password and matching that against an internal database.
However, due to the increase in malicious activity and the higher risk of data breaches in recent times, a single password is no longer considered enough to authenticate a user. Consequently, the concept of multi-factor authentication meaning additional layers of authentication when users sign in to their accounts, has emerged as a new norm.
2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
2 factor authentication involves asking users to authenticate themselves with something in addition to their account password. Usually this involves their cell phones, which are deemed to be accessible by them alone. Websites may require entering a pin code sent via SMS to your phones, and mobile applications usually use biometric authentication systems, such as Face ID or fingerprint scanning, which are present in most phones nowadays.
Identifying people with their biometric information adds a strong layer of security that makes systems less susceptible to data breaches, thus adding to the trustworthiness of the vendor.
In the digital age, data security has become a vital concern for consumers. Verification initially makes sure the user requesting access is legitimate, and authentication checks their identity on each subsequent interaction. The two processes together help maintain data security in digital systems.
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