Gartner Report: 2020 Gartner Market Guide for User Authentication

Gartner, the world's leading research and advisory company, recently published their annual Market Guide for User Authentication (Published 26 June 2020 - ID G00729931), making a strong case for multi-factor authentication (MFA). But they also caution that the industry needs to find a balance between innovation, effectiveness, and ease of implementation. According to Gartner:

  • “The rapid adoption of cloud services hugely increases enterprises’ exposure to phishing and other attacks, which in turn drives new investment in multi-factor authentication (MFA), among other cloud security controls.

  • “Client interest in password-less authentication continues to build. However, there are many ways to eliminate passwords, and technological constraints make a single universal approach elusive.

  • “Most legacy ‘MFA’ tools are really only “+1FA” tools, adding a single extra factor to a legacy password. New “true” MFA tools are gaining attention among clients; these typically provide password-less MFA.

  • “In any case, MFA provides far better confidence in a claimed identity than either fact or alone and thus can significantly reduce account takeover (ATO) risks. (However, no MFA method is bulletproof.)

  • “Many modern authentication providers augment their orthodox methods with approaches that evaluate a variety of contextual or other signals that can increase (or decrease) confidence in a claimed identity.”

ImageWare believes that two-factor authentication (2FA) offers only minimal improvement over 1FA solutions, including:

  • One-Time Passwords (OTP), SMS Text Messages, smartcards, and even Grid Cards do not authenticate the actual identity of the user, but merely confirm possession of a specific phone, card or email account

  • Smartcards are easily lost or stolen, and fraudsters can easily bypass user authentication safeguards these offer

  • 2FA devices require uses to keep them with them, and to avoid forgetting or losing them, users often just leave them plugged into their PCs, circumventing security

  • If one of these devices is lost or broken, users must often wait days to get a replacement device, resulting in lost productivity

  • With device-based authentication, if a newer version is required, users will need a replacement device

  • A server or appliance-based solution requires IT staff to visit the datacenter to place new hardware in the rack and make additional network connections

  • Appliance-based solutions typically include browser-based administration with a priority user interface (UI) that IT staff will need to learn

  • With device-based solutions, businesses need to manage distribution of physical devices to users, including shipping and setup of the initial and any replacement devices

ImageWare Authenticate outperforms smartcards and other hardware-based 2FA methods in these areas and more by using an individual’s biometrics, which cannot be lost or stolen. Only biometric authentication can provide indisputable proof of identity, offering the highest level of security for businesses. And with our Biointellic presentation attack detection, the system cannot be fooled with photos, videos, 3D masks, or other means.

Because ImageWare Authenticate does not store biometrics, rather converts them into templates (binary representations of the captured biometric characteristics), user identities are as secure as the systems our solution protects. Like a one-way hashing algorithm, the biometric templates cannot be converted back into biometric images.

By storing and matching in the Cloud, ImageWare Authenticate provides even stronger protections for both individuals and organizations. We store biometric templates on Amazon Web Services (AWS) using best practices for encryption, data security, and user privacy. ImageWare is SOC2 certified on our processes and procedures for security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of our SaaS solutions. Combined with the AWS security model, this level of data protection is more secure than some state and local government and commercial on-premises systems. The SaaS nature of ImageWare Authenticate ensures maximum system uptime, with multiple redundancies of all components, deployed across multiple AWS Regions and Access Zones, using a high-availability architecture.

And because ImageWare Authenticate is in the Cloud, users aren’t tied to a single device. If they leave their phone at home, or it is lost or stolen, they can simply download the mobile app to another device and get back to business right away. Updates are managed by ImageWare and not our customers, making administrative support by your IT department minimal. Users need only update the app on their device rather than waiting for a new token or smartcard to be shipped to them when new versions are needed.

The list of industries which can immediately benefit from implementing biometric MFA solutions only grows by the day, but some of the most imminent threats are to businesses in the financial services, healthcare, telco, and education segments.

You can download the complementary report here, and discover why so many businesses turn to Gartner for indispensable management and technology insights, advice, and tools. To find out how ImageWare Authenticate can work for you, request a demo or learn more by visiting

Gartner, Market Guide for User Authentication, Ant Allan, Tricia Phillips, David Mahdi, Kaoru Yano, 26 June 2020

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


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