Alternative authentication methods take hold in response to digital dangers

As global problems spill over into the digital realm and hybrid working has taken hold, businesses are increasingly looking beyond the password in order to secure accounts.

The latest Trusted Access Report from Cisco company Duo shows a 50 percent increase in the percentage of accounts allowing WebAuthn passwordless authentication and a fivefold increase in WebAuthn usage since April 2019.

To compile the report, Duo partnered with the Cyentia Institute to analyze data from more than 13 billion authentications on over 49 million devices, more than 490 thousand unique applications and roughly 1.1 billion monthly authentications from across its customer base, spanning North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.


In addition to the jump in WebAuthn use, it finds there has also been a 38 percent rise in the number of MFA authentications using Duo in the past year. The findings also show increasingly global adoption of MFA. Ireland shows the biggest increase in MFA use of 52 percent, followed by Japan on 32 percent.

An increasing number of authentications are attributed to cloud applications too, with a 24 percent rise in 2022. There's been more interest in location blocking as well, though relatively few currently use it, 91 percent of Duo customers who implement device-based policies restrict access from China or Russia, and 63 percent block both countries.

"If we rely on tools of the past and hope to use them to defeat our adversaries, we are doing ourselves a disservice," says Dave Lewis, global advisory CISO at Cisco Secure and author of the report. "Making use of multi-factor authentication and/or passwordless authentication models are essential for the modern business enterprise. When we consider the tremendous amount of threat intelligence available to us as defenders, from sources such as Talos, we must take advantage of this knowledge and translate it into capability to protect our environments as effectively as possible."

The full report is available from the Duo site.

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