There’s no greater annoyance to a user than being unable to log on to a website due a faulty password problem and who can blame them? No one wants to deal with the stress of creating a password and remembering it for future use. Plus, there’s no telling how far a password security issue can derail a company’s website or a nonprofit’s online donation form.

In fact, many of us have already likely experienced some of the frustrating drawbacks of passwords in our personal and professional lives such as:

  • They’re easy to forget.
  • They’re difficult to manage across a variety of systems.
  • They’re easily susceptible to major hacks.

All in all, there has to be a better way for corporations and organizations to help users verify their virtual identities.

Luckily, that’s where password alternatives come in to prevent your users from having to relay a complex combination of symbols every time they attempt to enter their accounts.

Not only are these password replacements more convenient, but they also enforce stronger security policies to protect you and your users’ personal information.

Intrigued? Simply follow along with us as we explore the following password alternatives that more and more organizations are taking advantage of:

  1. Email authentication
  2. Two-factor authentication
  3. Biometric authentication

By the end of this post, you’ll be convinced that an alternate security system is all it takes for you to beef up online defenses in a hassle-free way.

Bonus! Before we get started, you might want to check out our complete guide on password security. It will give you a deeper understanding of the challenges passwords can cause and other ways you can resolve these concerns.

@Pay's email authentication is our number one recommended password alternative.

Password Alternative #1: Email Authentication

Many professionals agree that email authentication is one of the top methods of choice for ensuring greater ease and security with online login, payments, and even donations.

In addition to our fundraising platform, @Pay as also developed a top-notch email authentication system that allows users to quickly log into accounts and authorize transactions with our instant buy and pay buttons.

To begin with, we’ll walk you through how this new-age security technology works as well as address your top questions and concerns let’s get started!

How @Pay’s Email Authentication Works

For those of you who we lost back at “email authentication”, never fear; no one has to be a tech wizard to grasp the nuts and bolts behind this password alternative. As a matter of fact, our step-by-step breakdown is pretty straightforward:

  1. To log in, the user pushes the “Login” button: When a user pushes your @Pay instant login button, a mailto link is triggered that generates a “authentication email”.
  2. The user is directed to a pre-written email: A user will use this email to verify their identity in order to access an account or authorize an online transaction. If it’s their first time making a payment, users are directed to a form where they fill out all of their information before receiving the email.
  3. The user sends the email: Once the email is sent, @Pay can access an individual token within the email to track the name of the user and the action they’ve requested.  

Check out our visual diagram below:

@Pay's email authentication process is a password alternative that's as easy as click, confirm, and send!

 

By using email authentication, @Pay is able to identify the user by their email address (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) instead of a password. This in turn allows users to more easily log in or make payments while having peace of mind that their personal information is safe.

How @Pay Confirms Your Email is Valid

The chief concern many companies have about email authentication is with any potential bugs that may put your users’ sensitive information at risk. That’s why we’ve implemented two extra security measures to set your mind at ease about how this password alternative protects your users’ email account and private data.  

For starters, email providers like Google, Yahoo, or Comcast already make sure your email account is password protected. These policies stop one user, say michelle@gmail.com, from sending emails from another account user like tiffany@comcast.net.

@Pay simply incorporates those email provider’s existing password security tactics into our email authentication system.

But how does @Pay prevent spoofed emails, you ask?

First, let us clarify that once a person pushes the login or payment button, their email travels through a digitally encrypted network of @Pay servers.

Our servers can then track the voyage of that email using DKIM (DomainKey Identified Mail) to verify that it originated from the email server. We also rely on SPF — a type of Domain Name Service record — to confirm your user’s email came from the actual server. 

At the end of the day, these protocols are some of @Pay’s top priorities for making certain your user network is protected through email authentication.

The bottom line: As opposed to entering an unreliable password, email authentication helps users feel more in safe when logging into their accounts or authorizing payments.

Two-factor authentication is a password alternative that provides an extra layer of security to your nonprofit's defenses.

Password Alternative #2: Two-Factor Authentication

For corporations and organizations looking to add an extra layer to their online security, two-factor authentication is another reputable password alternative to consider.

While mainly used by larger companies, individual and smaller businesses are starting to experiment with two-factor authentication to combat password breaches and online theft. Follow along as we detail everything you need to know about this handy password alternative!

How Two-Factor Authentication Works

Your users’ sensitive information may be highly-classified, but with only one round of usernames or passwords to log in, a competent hacker can compromise a users’ account with little to no effort.

Two-factor authentication was created in response to this unstable security system in favor of having users identify themselves in two separate ways when accessing a device or service. This extra defense not only stops fraudulent behavior in the moment, but the additional work also deters criminals from even trying in the first place.

These added security layers can take many forms depending on your company’s security standards and preferences, but some of the more common types of two-factor authentication include:

  • Physical Token: When a user logs in, they must use a physical token (usually a piece of hardware) to plug into a USB port or generate a limited-time password. This method is most commonly used at banks or places with highly-sensitive data.
  • SMS Verification: When a user logs in, a verification code is sent to their phone via a SMS message. The user can then access the code on their phone and type it into the online login screen.
  • Authenticator Apps: When a user sets up an account, a secret key is stored on the server and sent to the user’s portable device. Every time you log in, you’re given a unique code that can only be used once and is usually good for up to a minute. The most popular example of this is Google Authenticator.  

Here is an example of how the process would function with SMS verification:

Two-factor authentication is a password alternative that requires users to verify their identity twice.

Don’t forget that two-factor authentication should never be confused with two-form authentication, which uses a challenge question or other login gate to verify a user’s identity.

Top Pros and Cons of Two-Factor Authentication

To say the least, two-factor authentication wins out over traditional passwords simply with it’s tougher security levels. Although it requires a little extra work on the user’s part, the decrease in theft is certainly worth any organization looking into.

For instance, some of the most notable advantages of two-factor authentication include:

  • A user’s physical token is difficult for a hacker to get a hold of.
  • Most forms use a cellphone as a secondary tool to increase safety.
  • Authenticators are compatible with most applications and don’t depend on cell phone networks.

However, two-factor authentication’s multi-layered functionality can sometimes backfire on a user in the following critical ways:

  • You can’t access SMS without a phone signal, rendering it useless in some areas.
  • SMS and authenticator apps are at risk of theft, especially if other passwords are stored on the user’s phone.
  • Nontechnical users may face challenges when setting up an authenticator.
  • Setting up two-factor authentication lengthens the giving process which can be time-consuming.
  • Physical tokens are often expensive and easy to lose or steal.

Overall, this password alternative may be strong for the most part, but companies should also be prepared if the system collapses at a moment’s notice.

The bottom line: Two-factor authentication gives your login and payment system an extra line of defense by forcing users to identify themselves in multiple ways as opposed to issuing a single password.

Biometrics is a password alternative that uses a person's biological components to grant access to an account.

Password Alternative #3: Biometrics

Oftentimes, key physical attributes like fingerprints, eye retinas, and faces can be used to set us apart not only in looks but in security measures, too. Biometrics is a password alternative that uses our unique biology to replace the need for a password.

In fact, many of us already use fingerprint scanners on our smartphones to avoid manually entering a code every time we want to unlock our phones.

That’s why using biometrics to log into an account or make payments is a natural next step for this digital security system. To give you a better idea of how these password alternatives work, we’ll cover the basics and single out top benefits and setbacks.

How Biometrics Works

Similar to the previous two-factor authentication methods we covered, biometrics relies on an additional security element that’s personalized to each user.

This tailored process can be utilized to help users make accessing accounts and online payments or donations easier with just one step. 

For instance, the fingerprint payment system requires users to have a device with finger scanning capabilities. While the process varies slightly from one device to the next, the primary steps are the same: 

  1. The user just needs to rest his or her thumb on the device’s fingerprint scanner.
  2. Once the user’s thumbprint is confirmed, the individual can access his or her phone and make online payments.

With biometrics, the process is simple and intuitive:

The password alternative known as biometrics allows users to verify their identity using biological characteristics.

Biometric scanners are also now being used to make online payments, such as Mastercard’s fingerprint and facial recognition technology which confirms a cardholder’s identity for easier online shopping.

With the steady influx of biometric verification, companies can only imagine how these tech initiatives of tomorrow can impact security issues today.

Top Pros and Cons of Biometrics

There’s no denying that biometric authentication is more glamorous than traditional passwords, and thus more appealing. After all, because everyone has a unique set of biological features, it only makes sense for us to use these password alternatives as a way to enhance both online and offline security.

Other significant merits of biometrics include:

  • Fingerprints and eyeballs are harder to fake than payment or identity cards.
  • The key to accessing your account or making payments is always with you and can’t be forgotten.

Despite their high-tech allure though, there are a number of disadvantages to take into consideration with biometrics such as:

  • Accessing a device that can scan your fingerprints or face can be costly.
  • Someone can copy your fingerprint or eye retina to create a replica.
  • Scanners can be fooled by a picture/mold of someone’s fingerprint or a contact lens of someone’s eye retina.
  • Someone can force you to use your fingerprint to unlock confidential information.

It should be noted that many of these potential issues involve extreme dedication and expertise and unless you are someone with mass finances at stake it’s likely that a thief will not go to the trouble of accessing your fingerprints or eye retinas.

However, one serious drawback of biometrics is that once someone has access to those features, you can’t change them like a password or PIN code to protect your information. Essentially, when someone has a means of using your fingerprints or eye retinas, they have it for life.  

The bottom line: It’s important for your corporation to take into account the user experience of biometrics as well as its major security weaknesses.


Let’s face it: nothing can slow down your operations quite like a password-related problem. Earn your users’ trust by relying on a stronger password alternative to protect their personal information.

For more information on password security and website authentication, feel free to browse our additional resources:

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