Gartner Research

User Authentication Technologies Beyond the Password

Published: 28 April 2015

ID: G00271002

Analyst(s): Trent Henry, Anne Elizabeth Robins


User authentication is an essential element of modern IT systems, yet understanding options and balancing requirements remain complex. One-time passwords, smart cards, certificates, biometrics and phone-as-a-token are choices to consider across legacy, Web, mobile and cloud-based applications.

Table Of Contents



  • Business Context
    • Allow Users to Connect Securely
    • Accommodate the Variety of Constituencies and Platforms
  • Architectural Context
  • The Authentication Life Cycle
  • Password Authentication Is Subject to Numerous Attacks
  • Strengthening Authentication
  • Strong Authenticator Technologies
    • OTP Tokens
    • Out of Band Methods
    • Local Certificate Stores
    • Smart Cards and Smart (USB) Tokens
    • Biometric Technologies
  • Evaluating the Authentication Experience
    • Ubiquity
    • Application Coverage
    • Usability
    • Security
    • Management
    • Acquisition Cost
  • Credential Mismatches: Protecting the Strong With the Weak
    • Weak Cryptographic Keys
    • Unlocking Smart Cards With Biometrics
    • Using Strong Authentication With Enterprise SSO
    • Resetting OTP Devices
    • Loss of Device Access Used for OOB Authentication


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