With today’s times we are required to do everything to protect not only ourselves but also our identities. Criminals are stealing people’s social security number, bank account information, and even hacking into computers to take more personal information. According to the Internet Crime Report of 2010 one of the most common complaints were identity theft through the hacking of computers. How are these fraudsters able to develop a technique to hack into so many computers and databases so easily to steal all this information? It comes from the lack of knowledge of different authentication methods.
Below are the WIkipedia pages to provide a better understanding for each term, a YouTube video that provides a definition and some further examples on the terms above and research done on those terms.
People currently are not taking the necessity to protect themselves so seriously. Understanding authentication and the umbrella of methods it offers may help protect people today in not only understanding but also shielding their information from fraudsters. According to many websites, authentication involves the verification of a person or object and making sure that person or object is indeed who he, she, or it says it is. Typically this is done through a number of approaches- passwords, smart cards, thumbprints, and so forth. Although generally practicing authentication is almost inevitable in this time period, the method one uses determines whether information is safe or not.
Password- Wikipedia Page
Passwords are generally undisclosed to anyone other than the user of the current system. It typically contains a number of characters with a blend of lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. According to Symantec’s blog “The Simplest Security” it states that passwords are one of the “cheapest” forms of authentication. Does cheaper mean easier to hack? Could be if passwords are not set up correctly. Passwords become a crucial part of authentication, creating a short and weak password will set one up for an easy target for criminals. A major requirement and probably the safest on is one that includes a mixture of each character. Another requirement for a stronger and harder-to-hack password would be a longer combination of those characters. Routinely, people tend to create passwords in relation to birthdates, vacation trips, and other sentimental objects to them however that has proven to be some of the worst decisions in password making. There’s a website on the easiest passwords people have created and have been hacked. Common ones even include “1234.” With that being said, it is very important that if this is the only authentication used when logging into a computer or an Internet program, that the password is strong and very hard to guess.
Smartcard- Wikipedia Page
Another form of authentication is the smart card. The basic definition for a smart card is a microchip that contains information and data about the person in use of the chip. Sometimes a smart card is programmed to include a password, which then directs it to be one of the strongest methods of authentication. Many people have seen smart cards in their SIM cards for phones. In the case that the phone was stolen- that chip can direct where the phone is in some cases and if there is an additional password that cannot be unlocked it sometimes freezes the card so that it will remain invalid going further. Countries out of the U.S. use smart cards on bankcards to maintain the authenticity of the person using to make a payment or purchase. Even some community colleges (De Anza-Cupertino, CA 2008) include this little microchip that is used to identify the student. According to an article based off of Microsoft , Windows is currently looking into requiring these smart cards as an authentication method for logging in. Due to continuous password hacking, these smart cards will encrypt a person’s identity into this chip. In order to use a computer this person would have to insert the chip- if the smart card was forgotten then there would be no way for that person to log into the computer. Not only in Microsoft’s example but in all uses of these smart cards- if it were to be lost or stolen, one phone call will shut off that card and deactivate it so fraudsters would not be able to make use of it.
Biometrics- Wikipedia Page
Biometrics is another stronger use of authentication. A definition that is used from many websites states that it’s a form of authentication that uses biological traits to verify the person. This can include a variety of different biological traits. A most common biometric verification form would be the thumbprint. Some computers include this type of authentication- placing your thumb on an electronic device on a notebook to unlock a computer. Other types could include voice verification, DNA, and even recognizing someone’s face. One of the easier ones to forge is the signature but if you combine different biometrics methods you initially make it almost impossible to forge. The way biometrics works is a person’s identity is confirmed with that of the current one on the database. Using biometrics is one of the only authentication methods that are very difficult to hack since no one can be someone else and has the same unique trait. Biometrics used to be a very expensive method to use however because of increasing technology it is stated that now it is more affordable and one of the safest ways to authenticate.