Even ten years ago, it was clear that the days were numbered for passwords, but the predicted path to better authentication took a different turn.

Barely more than a decade ago (Feb 14, 2006) at the RSA conference in San Jose, CA, Bill Gates made a bold prediction:

"Password systems really won't cut it."

Ding-Ding-Ding!! We have a winner!

Then he continued by asserting:

“Firms need to move to multifactor authentication, and a lot of that will be smart cards.”

Awwww. So close. Well, we do have some nice parting gifts for you, Mr. Gates.

That's right. Even Bill Gates occasionally gets it wrong. In this case, forecasting that smart cards would become the chosen technology to knock passwords off the security podium seemed sensible enough at the time, but what ultimately happened was just the opposite.

Authentication goes mobile

Since Gates’ prediction, users simply haven’t embraced high-assurance security technologies – such as smart cards – like many security professionals thought. Proper user authentication – which consists of something you have, something you know or something you are – just isn’t effective unless it’s easy and frictionless for the user.

As Gartner noted several years ago, usability had become one of the biggest obstacles for online organizations. Fortunately, this concept was not lost on us and now defines iovation’s approach to multifactor authentication.

In fact, in its “Magic Quadrant for User Authentication” report just three years ago, Gartner touched on how bring-your-own-device (BYOD) demands had sparked businesses to change their tune – and their focus – to mobile devices.

In the words of the report’s author, Ant Allan:

“The desire is for an authentication methodology – say a mobile app – that provides the right level of trust and doesn’t reduce the user experience.”

For authentication to succeed, according to Gartner, businesses would have to move to mobile and cloud solutions, and accept the fact that legacy approaches were becoming obsolete.

What’s in store for 2017?

Today, the world of authentication is zeroing in on removing friction from the user’s online experience, giving them more control over how they are authenticated at different touch points along their journey, and leveraging deep, contextual device information at each point to ensure proper security levels are maintained.

At iovation, continuous and adaptive authentication is the very core of the Dynamic Authentication Suite. We’ll be at RSA next month (Booth 2826) to present it to our industry colleagues and demonstrate how it effectively meets rising demand for frictionless multifactor authentication. We'd love to see you there.

Be sure to register to our post-RSA webinar – RSA 2017: The Consumerization of Authentication – to learn about the experiences of iovation subscribers who are successfully balancing user experience, massive scalability, and risk-appropriate authentication.

Register now – before it fills up!