Enter your username and password. Prove you’re not a robot by selecting each box that shows a traffic light. Try again because you got it wrong the first time. Enter a one-time passcode that’s been sent to your email. Sound familiar?
It’s not enough to simply remember a password anymore. On many platforms, logging in has turned into a digital assault course, with multiple obstacles designed to validate that users really are who they say they are. Authentication processes occurring behind the scenes are even more complicated - and for good reason, as the alternative can be catastrophic.
The number of data breaches has grown exponentially, with 2021 set to be a record-breaking year for data compromises. The repercussions for businesses can be huge, from legal action and operational downtime to financial loss and reputational damage.
Digital transformation means that businesses have to manage more and more personal data. From home addresses to bank details, a mountain of information is gathered through engagement with customers, partners, stakeholders and suppliers. And with large amounts of personal identifiable information (PPI) comes great responsibility.
Striking a balance between seamless and secure
Customers are increasingly savvy about their data and want reassurance that it’s in safe hands. Delivering a first class customer experience is an essential part of any business, and this includes guaranteeing a user authentication experience that is both seamless and secure.
But a balance needs to be struck. If authentication is too heavy handed, customers won’t come back. If data isn’t sufficiently secure, they might not even sign up in the first place. Organisations should aspire for their authentication processes to act like a digital bouncer at a premium club: welcoming customers warmly whilst managing threats and keeping bad actors away.
Unfortunately, many businesses today are falling short when it comes to both customer experience and security. Access for users to a large number of digital services is the crossroads where technical execution meets customer expectation. Organizations need to manage huge complexity and users expect a smooth login experience wherever they are.
To address this and get a balance between the two requires a set of tools that makes it possible to adapt the authentication process to the app, location, or website that the user needs to access.
Building a Common Identity Platform
Protecting businesses from security threats is becoming increasingly complex, and this presents a challenge for developers. Bad actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated and, like a game of Whac-A-Mole, for every threat that’s extinguished, another pops up.
We know that not every developer can be an identity specialist, however developers are still expected to provide sophisticated applications that perform consistently and securely across digital services. The only way to do this effectively and efficiently is through one cohesive platform for authentication and identity management, united through a Common Identity Platform. So, what benefits can this bring to businesses?
1. Earn customer trust
Inconsistent, slow or convoluted functions will cause customers to leave in droves. As a consumer, if it takes two minutes to log into your streaming service when your favourite sport is on, or quickly check your bank balance on the move, you will naturally feel frustrated. Customers need to trust that authentication mechanisms will be efficient and access will be speedy, otherwise they will go elsewhere - and that trust requires the consistency that comes from one cohesive platform. Getting it right will pay dividends in brand loyalty that will certainly benefit a business’s bottom line.
2. Empower developers
A Common Identity Platform empowers developers to easily integrate and deploy Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions across digital services, clients, and devices in a flexible, scalable, and secure way.
Critical identity policies can be managed centrally, meaning app developers are able to ensure consistent authentication and access performance, making the most of the reusability function that the Platform offers. Developers can be reassured that the identity solutions within their applications meet a very high level of compliance.
3. Leverage existing investment
Large organisations are likely to have several legacy IAM systems in place, whether acquired through mergers and acquisitions or just through organic growth over time. It’s not feasible - practically or financially - for any established business to set up entirely new security systems from scratch, and it’s not safe to stay as they are. A Common Identity Platform enables developers to merge legacy systems with new ones, cutting costs whilst ensuring businesses benefit from the latest and most sophisticated security technology.
Increased data regulation in many parts of the world also means systems must meet a wide range of compliance and security standards. A Common Identity Platform can replace or complement legacy IAM solutions and still utilise certain parts, for the short or long-term, while these continue to be in use. It can also act as an identity broker, making it straightforward to develop and use a standard set of APIs, even when utilising multiple identity providers - providing the flexibility, scalability, and reusability required to comply with regulations and maximise existing investments.
Businesses don’t need to choose between security and customer experience. With a Common Identity Platform, it is perfectly possible to excel at both. Only by integrating consistent authentication experiences into the myriad of digital services on offer can companies create the exceptional experiences that future proof their business by keeping customers coming back.
Jacob Ideskog is Chief Technology Officer at Curity.