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Strong Authentication: The New Standard in Password Protection

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Sarah Nicholas

Originally Posted: May 7, 2020
Updated: May 6, 2021

Not only do we spend a majority of our free time online, but we are also conducting business and handling personal matters through the internet. So, shouldn’t we do everything we can to protect ourselves while we’re banking, streaming, and Zooming? Strong passwords are a great place to start, but given the systems we have in place now, they’re no longer enough to protect us. 
It is always smart to take time to reflect on how we use our passwords. Like getting dressed in the morning, they’ve become second nature to us, and it’s easy to ignore them. But while they offer a good first layer of protection, they’re vulnerable to attacks and weak spots, including impersonation, guessing, observing, snooping, borrowing, and dictionary attacks. If we neglect them for too long, they stop serving us.

Strong authentication has become the standard for protecting ALL of our confidential, personally identifiable information. Think of it as a multi-layered gateway to your identity. Strong authentication blends a minimum of two of the following mutually independent authentication factors:

  • Knowledge: something you the user knows that’s hard for others to guess or research
    • Example: a strong password
  • Ownership: something you possess that’s difficult to duplicate or interfere with
    • Example: a smart-card or a device that generates time-synchronized tokens (such as an RSA SecureID)
  • Inherence: one of your physical characteristics
    • Example: your fingerprint or voice

The key to strong authentication is that the compromise of one method is not likely to lead to the compromise of the second. Additionally, the authentication method must include one non-reusable element that people cannot easily reproduce or steal from the Internet. Think – a strong password, followed by a one-time code texted to your mobile phone.

And your spouse’s birthdate or pet’s name and the year aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Security is all about slowing attackers down. The more layers of protection you add, the better chance you have of protecting yourself. Like locking your doors and windows at home, strong authentication gives you added layers of protection, increasing your chances of thwarting attackers.

For more tips like these, please explore our many other helpful cybersecurity resources on our website. We also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Written by: Sarah Nicholas

Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education and animal rights and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.