We live in an era in which digital transformation is a reality present in the daily lives of almost every company and individual, and the methods of digital user authentication to avoid ideological falsehood fraud are a very present issue. If implemented correctly, this strategy protects consumers against the violation of their data and eliminates the risk of losses and headaches for the company and its customers.

Authentication methods are technological ways to confirm that users are legitimate and authentic, proving that whoever claims some type of access is, in fact, the person they claim to be.

Thus, we can affirm that authentication methods are technological tools that aim to verify a person's identity in the digital world, without the need for their physical presence to do so. 

But do you know what the main digital authentication methods are and their importance? Read on to learn!

What is digital authentication?

In order to prevent fraudsters or other people with bad intentions from impersonating suitable citizens, using the data of third parties to commit fraud and other types of crimes, digital authentication is the online process by which it is possible to prove the identity of a person without having to be physically present in a particular place to carry out any type of operation, process, or transaction.

What are the types of digital authentication?

To define which authentication methods are most suited to the business, it is necessary to determine the levels of complexity and sophistication, since only in this way is it possible to identify categories and how many factors will be used. Next, see what those categories are.

Information that the user knows

To be able to be authenticated and have free access, the user must necessarily know some information such as name, password, date of birth, PIN, etc.

This category is one of the best known and simple to use, however, it can easily be circumvented when a third party manages to discover this type of data, even if it does so in a rude way, as a simple process of trial and error.

Information that the user receives

In this category, for the user to be able to be authenticated and have access released, they must receive the data to obtain certain access. For example: with a cell phone, it receives a validation code via SMS or email. Another good example is the code generating applications to allow access.

This is a safer way than the previous one, since it requires the possession of the card or token, but even so it is not risk-proof, since social engineering techniques have already proven to be quite efficient in circumventing this type of data in some cases.

Physical characteristics of the user

The most rigorous authentication method, since it uses factors that, in theory, cannot be copied, such as biometrics. A great example is facial recognition, but there are also fingerprints, voice recognition, iris, etc.

What is digital authentication

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What are the main digital authentication methods?

The wide variety of digital authentication methods can leave people a bit confused. After all, they exist from more sophisticated models, with several authentication steps or that require a specific user feature, to simpler ones, in which you only need to have a combination of numbers and letters.

Below, we will introduce you to the main options for authentication methods.


Used on different platforms, the token method is a standard in the market. It is a fairly common method for authenticating web systems in which there is a relationship between the user and the server. 

Token authentication works as follows: the user enters the login and password and a token is generated that allows them to enter the site or application to use the resources within a specified time, without having to log in again.

SMS Authentication

This is generally a type of two-step authentication. First, the user logs in to access the platform and to complete the login, he must confirm who he is by means of a numerical code.

It is a type of authentication that is widely used when the user forgets the password or needs to enter an online platform.

Public and private key authentication

It is a type of authentication divided into two keys: one public and the other private. One is used for encoding and the other is used for decoding. The public key is available to any user who is on the system or server, while the private key provides access only to the user, and only the user has the encryption of that key. 

For example: a certain person sent a message with the public key. The other user who will receive the message must use the private key. To answer, however, he will have to use the public key.

Symmetric key authentication

It is a type of authentication that uses a key to authenticate. 

In this case, only one key is used for authentication. Unlike the previous one, it is the same key to encode or decode, which can be a disadvantage for accessing public information, since everyone must have the key. 

In this type of authentication, the user shares a key with the server, so when a message is sent, it is decoded using the same key. When the server recognizes the pattern, it authorizes the user.

Contextual authentication

Certain systems may have a slightly different access configuration. Most platforms require some type of password placed by the user himself to guarantee access. In context authentication, identity confirmation takes place confidentially, based on factors such as device location or IP address.


Another way to authenticate the user is through their location. This is a form of confirmation that works not only to indicate that the person is really who they say they are, but also helps define important information, especially when it comes to an exchange of files.

With this authentication, it is possible to know by verifying the storage location of a file if a document was generated in one location and modified in another, making it easier to discover a corrupt document, for example.

Centralized Authentication

This model is not so much related to the environment, but to the possibility of admission. This is because the way for the user to have access can be by password or token, but this authentication will ensure that the user can log in to a series of other services. This means that the user doesn't need another login to access. 

It's very common to see this type of authentication on social networks. One's password can be used to access other company products, for example, as is the case with LinkedIn and Instagram.

Digital identity authentication

This is the most stringent type of authentication, since it requires a series of information for the user to confirm access. It generally uses a combination of data, such as location, behavior, device, email address, and others.

Because it is quite demanding, it is usually very secure, even requiring the user to be in real time to answer questions.

Digital certificate

The digital certificate has a slightly more specific form of authentication. It aims to determine if a certain process complies with all safety guidelines. In many cases, it can be seen as a kind of digital identity, being used by the user to be recognized on other systems and platforms.

The digital certificate provides a private key to the user, in addition to a digital signature through a PIN, which authenticates the signing of documents.

Other platforms

This is a type of authentication that follows the centralized principle well, but it does not have to be the services of the same company. Called e-authentication, here the relationship is between the login and the password from other platforms. 

For example: some applications may provide access registration and allow you to use a social network login to log in. Therefore, instead of the user creating a new identification, they can log in directly if they are already logged in to the social network. 

This authentication may not be as secure, since you provide your data to another platform, but it makes it easier to access, since it is not necessary to create a different password.

computer keyboard with credit card and padlock
Digital authentication: what is it

How does the authentication process take place?

Although they are the most used authentication methods currently on the market, it doesn't mean that they are less secure or that they don't solve most of the company's pain well. In fact, some methods tend to have the same structure, but organized differently. 

Check out the main processes now.

Passwords or PINs

Used in almost every type of validation, passwords and PINs are numbers that, in theory, only the legitimate user knows. With the correct sequence of these algorithms, the user is able to prove at first that it is the one who requests access, and not a person impersonating it.


Biometric authentication is performed by systems capable of reading the unique physical characteristics of each user. This makes it possible to state, quite effectively, that the user is who they say they are when requesting access.

Two-factor authentication

A combination of the authentication methods mentioned above, two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for users and companies.

Also known as 2FA, it is a step beyond the user's password or PIN to ensure that a person, when trying to log in in a protected environment, really is who they say they are and not a fraudster trying to commit a crime. 

The most common cases of using the second authentication factor are those in which an SMS or a code is sent to an email registered by the user, who has the obligation to access it to authenticate.

What is the importance of identity authentication?

In today's world in which we live, authenticating identity in digital environments is an extremely important way to guarantee the security of the data that travels there, both for the company and for the user himself. 

From the companies' point of view, the benefits range from improving the customer experience to the economy with lengthy and costly lawsuits, which can arise from the invasion of an account. All this without mentioning the direct financial losses such as chargebacks, fines, etc., which are avoided by carrying out efficient authentication. 

Meanwhile, for users, the certainty of traveling in a safe environment with sensitive data protected is the big gain.

What is the relationship with information management and security?

Adopting authentication methods that can verify identities without generating any type of problem with the user is a constant concern of companies aware of digital transformation trends.

For this to happen, it is necessary to invest in modern means of authentication, capable of quickly crossing large amounts of data, leaving authentication solutions increasingly sophisticated and discrete to the user's perception. 

It is important to highlight that companies need to think about the user experience, finding flexible solutions that can offer a range of authentication options, so that the user can choose the most convenient means for them.