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Authentication 101: Your Guide to Secure Accounts

Updated: Feb 7


In this day and age, authentication is a part of everyday life. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that while this process helps keep information private; it is by no means foolproof.

That’s why it’s essential to use unique, personalized passwords that are hard to guess. This rings especially true for email accounts.

What is authentication?

Digital authentication is the process of determining whether someone is who they declare themselves to be. Authentication provides access to systems by checking if the user’s credentials match the credentials stored in a database of authorized users.

The three authorization factors and some of their elements are:


  1. Knowledge factors: Something the user knows (Ie. A password, partial password, passphrase, personal identification number (PIN), etc.).

  2. Ownership factors: Something the user has (Ie. wrist band, ID card, security token, implanted device, etc.).

  3. Inherence factors: Something the user is or does (Ie. fingerprint, retinal pattern, signature, face, voice, etc.).

There are several authentication methods, with the most popular being two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires the correct login information as well as another verification check; for example, if a user links their phone to a Gmail account, they’ll receive a one-time verification code every time they log in from a new computer. The goal is to ensure that only the account holder can access the accounts, even if someone else has the correct login information.


As with everything in the digital world, security trends are always changing, and the newest standardization is social logins. Social logins allow users to signup and log into their accounts using their social network (like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). The introduction of social logins gives users access to a single-sign-in system that allows them to use the same credentials across different security systems.


Guest Checkout v.s User Accounts

There has been a long-running debate within the eCommerce world weighing the pros and cons of Guest Checkout v.s. User Accounts.


Guest Checkout

Guest Checkouts let customers make their purchases without logging into or creating an account on the platform. This means that companies don’t get to collect any information about their customers during their checkout process.


It’s become standard practice for some online retailers to allow unknown users to make purchases without logging into or creating a store account by adding a guest checkout feature. This means that brands do not retain any information that customers enter during the checkout process. According to BigCommerce, they’ve also been proven to reduce cart abandonment.

The fact is that most online shoppers are hesitant to trust online retailers with their card information. As such, the lower level of commitment means that users are more likely to convert if they aren’t required to create accounts before making their purchase.


However, guest checkouts mostly introduce challenges for the companies. First-time customers will likely prefer to use guest checkout, which means that your company won’t have the information to customize marketing efforts to target these customers effectively.


User Accounts:

On the other hand, your company can benefit from customers who create accounts and store their information in their profiles (user IDs). This means that their details will automatically be added to their corresponding fields when they make their next purchase.


User accounts create an opportunity for companies to enroll their customers into a loyalty program automatically. This serves to encourage repeat customers and encourage new customers to create their profiles, making sure that both the customer and the business benefit.


Every eCommerce business knows that there are always problems with reordering, exchanges, and returns; however, customer accounts bypass those problems by saving order history and linking their corresponding tracking numbers for added convenience. As a result, customers no longer need to archaically track down the original email to find their tracking numbers and can simply track it through their accounts.


Avoid Legacy Systems

Regardless of what you’re looking for in authentication management software; it’s a good idea to stay away from legacy systems. The reason for that is that while your company has had to adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape; Legacy IAMs (Identity and Access Management Systems) were designed for the closed IT network and workforce environments of the past.

A decade ago, these solutions were sufficient when all a company needed was to give employees access to the data and systems they needed. However, they are wholly ill-equipped and fall short for providing quick access for today’s modern user.


Unlike traditional employees, customers don’t exist within the company’s employee directory; and, as such, are rarely covered by employee processes and policies to request, provision, and audit access. This means that the IT department has to manage basic tasks like manually onboarding and offboarding users, as well as provisioning the corresponding credentials for hundreds or thousands of accounts. IT teams in most companies don’t have the capacity for those tasks, making it common to shift that responsibility to third-party vendors.


Final Thoughts

Today, businesses need modern authentication solutions that manage more network entry points, and users than legacy systems can handle. It’s a great idea to secure access to accounts by combining modern authentication best practices with multi-factor authentication like two-factor authentication.


The security on your platform is one of your business’s most essential features, and it all starts with your company’s authentication.


Are you wondering if Pelcro is the right company to manage your website’s subscriptions, memberships, and user authentication systems? Get started with one of our free trials, or schedule a demo with one of our experts to find out.

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