User Authentication and Access Control: Strengthening Network Security

May 10, 2024

Network security is important, but why?  Why would one worry about cyber threats? Well, the answer lies in a statement – whatever data you have, it’s precious. To a business, the cost of the data they own is in millions.

So how to secure data? Again there are many ways, but the most sought-after one is – user authentication and access control.

If a business is able to combine both user authentication and access control, it can create multiple layers of defence. It will make it difficult for cyber attackers to compromise any system. Wondering how? Let’s check it out!

What is User Authentication in network security?

User authentication, as the name suggests, is a company authenticating, that is, verifying a user before it logins to the system. Over here. The identity of an individual is checked out before they get access to any resource or information system.

It acts as a shield to the information, nobody can enter, if not verified.

This simple process protects the sensitive data of the organisation. They can perform specific actions within the network.

The whole process of user authentication involves the usage of credentials like username and password for user validation.

One thing to note, cyber threats have become more sophisticated than ever. Hence traditional authentication process may not provide sufficient protection.

Types of User Authentication Methods in network security

As mentioned previously, to enhance network security, organisations these days must look after implementing only the advanced user authentication methods.

These methods must offer stronger safeguard against any unauthorised access. One such method/type is two factor authentication. For example, WhatsApp. This message used (2FA) to add an extra layer of security. It combines both: something that the user knows (password) with something that the user possesses (a unique code). Thus, if an attacker tries to obtain the user’s password, they will need physical access to the user’s device to complete the whole authentication process.

Yet another authentication method is biometric authentication, it’s the most popular one. Over here, the device used unique biological characteristics like fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scan to verify a user’s identity. Compared to the previous one, this authentication method provides a superior level of security.

But organisations have to take care of one aspect. They must have robust systems in place to safely secure and process the biometric data. Because, if compromised, they can face severe consequences.

Are there any benefits of user authentication in network security?

The whole user authentication process brings several benefits to organisations. Some major ones are

  • It significantly reduced the risk of attackers getting into the network, that means no unauthorised access
  • Attackers can’t simply make use of stolen credentials to breach the system
  • It provides accountability. That means, every user’s actions can be traced back to their unique identity. And with this organisations can easily identify and mitigate any potential insider threats
  • And to the last, user authentication instils confidence. Both employees and customers feel that their data is protected and their privacy is being respected.

How to implement user authentication in your network ?

Effective implementation of user authentication demands best practices. An organisation must ensure that they enforce strong password policies. Users must create complex passwords and it has to be changed regularly. Then, it must educate users about the importance of not sharing passwords or even reusing them.

Next, organisations must consider implementing two factor authentication as an additional layer of security. This particular process can be done by integrating third party authentication services. They can even go for using hardware tokens to generate unique codes often.

And last but the most important one, organisations must regularly monitor and audit user accounts to check suspicious activities or unauthorised attempts.

What are different access control models in network security?

So, coming to access controls, this ensures that only the right users get permissions or access. There are different access control models – discretionary access control (DAC), mandatory access control (MAC), and role-based access control (RBAC).

DAC, as the name suggests, the access decisions are at the discretion of the resource owner. He/she can determine which user and at what level they can have access. MAC, on the other hand, is a stricter model where access decisions are based on predefined security classifications and labels.

And RBAC, it’s a widely adopted access control model. This model assigns permissions based on the user’s role within the organisation. Each role is associated with a set of permissions.

Some benefits of access control in network security

All the access control measures bring several advantages to network security, like:

  • Access control limits overall damage that could be caused by internal threats or any data leak
  • It gives users access to necessary privileges according to their roles
  • With this, organisations can also enforce compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards
  • To the last, access control provides organisations with a clear audit trail. That means, they can track user activities, detect anomalies, and investigate any security incidents

Here’s how you can implement access control in your network!

Similar to user authentication, over here too organisations must do a thorough assessment of their resources. They must identify the user roles within the organisation. This will help them define all the necessary permissions. So, are you ready to enforce all these amazing network security measures?

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