4 User Authentication Issues Developers and Admins Struggle With (Solved)

User authentication is how admins and developers like you and I enforce secure access to user accounts. But in the face of increasing cybersecurity concerns, our challenges have grown taller.

Look at the statistics. In the first three quarters of 2018 alone, attackers launched about 1.4 million phishing URLs. As you know, phishing targets a user’s authentication rights and identity.

Meanwhile, in the real world, most people are not taking precautions to secure their accounts. In a study published in 2019, 67 percent of participants do not use two-factor authentication at all for their accounts. Out of those that use 2FA, 55 percent do not use it at work.

This laxity to security puts admins on edge. So this article identifies and provides solutions to some of the problems you face in implementing user authentication for your apps and websites.

1. Getting Users to Set Strong Passwords

The passwords of nine out of every ten employees can be hacked within six hours. And two-thirds of people use the same password for most of their accounts. So imagine a black hat hacker stealing that one password, and it’s the same password for your online banking.

The Problem with Getting Users to Set Strong Passwords

Users worry that they’ll forget their passwords all the time if they use unique passwords for each online account they set up. This fear deters them from following their admins’ suggestions even if they know better.

Most users don’t know that they can safely store passwords on a password manager. So far, it looks like admins haven’t done much in telling users about password managers.

The Solution for Admins and Developers

Tell your users about the dangers of using a single password or repeating passwords. Let them know that a secure password manager like KeePass, LastPass, or others saves them the stress of remembering passwords. These password managers also help them set strong passwords. Teach them how to use browser extensions for password manager of your choice.

2. Encouraging Users to Implement 2FA for Their Accounts

According to a Google Engineer, Grzegorz Milka, more than 90 percent of Gmail users do not use 2FA in their accounts at all. Understandable because most users see it as an extra huddle to accessing their account.

So they avoid it.

Albeit, users still want security. So they’d rather rely on password managers because they make login automatic and require fewer huddles. While a password manager is good, admins must let users know that the more security layers they use, the less likely they’d be hacked.

The Problem with Implementing 2FA

The problem is that most users are not seeing the risk of leaving their email accounts to one authentication mechanism – passwords or passphrases only. Hackers, on the other hand, are looking for accounts with the least resistance to hacking.

The Solution for Admins and Developers

Your job as a developer or admins is to help your users see the risk and understand its costs. So the question comes to “How do I help them see the risk?”

Let them know that attackers might have hacked their accounts already. So having a 2FA in place is a step to stop further compromise even if these hackers compromised their user passwords.

Here’s a case in point. Yahoo had been hacked since 2013 or earlier, but no one noticed until years later in 2017 when the announcement and investigation kicked in. That’s a full four years before people realized they’d been hacked.

Employees need to know that using two-factor authentication puts a demand on the account to notify them, the user, of any unauthorized login attempts.

Secondly, users need to know that they might have been hacked already and may not know it now until later in the future. So setting up a second-factor authentication can help them save their accounts. Security experts say that hackers stole anywhere from 7.5 to 8.5 billion records in 2019 alone.

3. Preventing SMS Spoofing

Hackers understand the power of 2FA, and they’re trying hard to phish their way through that second layer of security. In a study published by Thycotic, 68 percent of black hat hackers said their biggest challenge is multifactor authentication.

Consequently, admins and developers are saddled with the responsibility of helping their users understand and prevent SMS spoofing.

In case SMS spoofing sounds new to you. It’s a phishing technique that hackers use to gain control of their target’s information or devices.

So these hackers would send an SMS message to their targets and making it appear as if the message is coming from a target’s trusted source. A trusted source could be their employer, senior executive, or finance department staff.

For example, a hacker could send SMS messages to your employees that appear to come from you, the admin, asking them to click a link to give some sensitive information. Your employees would click the link, believing the message came from you, and then unknowingly compromise their device, share some sensitive data, or both.

Hackers can use SMS spoofing the same way they use email spoofing,

  1. Collect sensitive information to aid their hacking activities or sell on the dark web
  2. Take control of your device and use that access to perpetuate other hacking or identity theft attacks.

So you want to sensitize your users on how to spot and stop a phishing attempt.

The Problem with Preventing SMS Spoofing

The biggest problem with preventing SMS spoofing is ignorance on the part of system users. Additionally, admins are not investing enough resources in educating their users on how to spot and block these spoofing attempts.

Admin and developers might be underestimating the impact of an attack too, and that’s why they are not investing enough in educating their users about SMS phishing.

The Solution for Admins and Developers

Due to the high-level security that 2FA bestows on users, spoofers are desperate to break that line of defense. As an admin or developer, here are your options for preventing an SMS spoof attack.

Invest in Employee or System User Education

Educate your employees and users to not click on SMS links from unknown sources or that they haven’t verified. Let them take this phishing test.

That spoofing test focuses on email spoofing. But it sensitizes users to pay more attention to the messages they receive. Ultimately, attackers want to deceive you into taking an action that grants them access to your sensitive data or device. Hence you want to train your users on how to spot these deceptions.

Use a Signature Message

Set up a signature that goes with every SMS you send to devalue any phishing attempt immediately. For example, “Prevent SMS spoofing: call the number that sent this SMS.”

This prevention technique works because people who spoof phone numbers don’t own them. Tell your users to hang up and call the number back. When they call, they’ll reach the real holder, not the spoofer.

4. The Social Sign-in Puzzle

In the bid to improve authentication, developers introduced social media sign-in. The idea is that users would sign in to third-party websites and apps using their social media accounts, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail.

This arrangement is pretty secure. So the problem here isn’t with the security of the process. But the convenience of the user.

The Problem with Social Sign-In

Social sign-in saves users the hassle of creating new passwords. But these users must remember how they signed up for the service. Hence, this authentication often creates issues for users.

Customer Churn Because of Forgotten Authentication Channel

Your users may signup for your service, but since they don’t use it often, they’d forget how they accessed the site. If they have very little to lose, they’d churn and never return to the service.

Loss of Access to User Account After Loss of Social Account

A user may lose access to the social media account they used to sign up. If that happens, they may churn and stop using the service. Even if they don’t churn, users may define this event as a poor customer experience.

Security Concerns

Users may feel unsafe granting third-party apps permissions to their social accounts. This concern may intensify if the app requests access to “control,” “send emails,” or “make posts” on their behalf.

The solution for Admins and Developers

You want to treat the use of social sign-in as an experiment to know how your users find the experience before you discard or adopt it fully. Secondly, admins should provide backup sign-in methods for users in case they lose access to their social accounts.

Developers and admins must provide brief explanations for what they mean when they ask for permission that might deter users from adopting their social sign-in option.

End the Authentication Struggle

Most admins and developers struggle with user authentication because they don’t invest in user security awareness. Users will take more responsibility, the more they understand the risk that comes with being lax with their account security.

In summary, let your users know that

  1. Clicking unfamiliar links or downloading unexpected attachments could expose them to security risks
  2. They shouldn’t take phone calls without confirming the identity of the caller or never give sensitive information over a phone call
  3. If they think their system might be infected or compromised, they should contact an admin

The cost of falling victim to a security exposure outways the cost of preventing it. Hence, you want to invest in prevention, and that includes enforcing 2FA. You also want to test user authentication channels that might improve your security and user authentication experience.

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

SMS has more reach than other messaging channels because you don’t need a smartphone and an internet connection to access a text message.

But what gives SMS marketing its power is the engagement it generates.

While email has a 20 to 30 percent open rate, SMS has a 98 percent open-rate. And 90 percent of recipients read their text messages within three seconds of receiving them.

More so, SMS has a reply rate as high as 45 percent, and an average person responds to an SMS within 90 seconds.

What’s more?

SMS marketing generates outsized ROI. For example, a British motor racing circuit earned a 680 percent return on their SMS marketing efforts.

How can you benefit from all these goodies?

Let’s explore how you can leverage SMS to boost your profits, earn buyers’ trust, and gain referrals.

Table of Contents: 14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

You may skip to any part of this content by clicking any of the items on the list.

    1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS
    2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers
    3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers
    4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement Levels
    5. Use SMS for Call to Action
    6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns
    7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate
    8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness
    9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback
    10. Abandoned Cart Notification
    11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service
    12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
    13. Manager Your Customer Appointments
    14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People

1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS

More businesses are favoring customer retention over acquisition. Specifically, businesses favoring customer retention over acquisition moved from 70 percent to 80 percent in one year.

One study showed that 82 percent of shoppers choose businesses that have loyalty programs over others. And loyalty programs guarantee customer retention.

Fortunately, raising your customer retention rate by five percent is a big deal. It could earn your business up to 125 percent more profit.

Image Credit: TechnologyAdvice

So it only makes sense for businesses to gravitate towards customer loyalty strategies. But some businesses are better at using potent tactics than others.

Savvy brands understand the power of SMS, and they’re using it to drive their customer loyalty growth at the speed of thought.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When shoppers buy from them, they seize that moment. These brands would send buyers an SMS invite to join their loyalty programs in exchange for intelligently structured benefits.

2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers

Loyal customers are happy to introduce you to new customers, or they’re willing to introduce new people to your business.

Your customers’ willingness to introduce their friends to your business is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) booster.

If the term is new to you, your business’s NPS shows you the level of loyalty your customers have for the business. It shows you how likely they’ll recommend your product or service to their friends or colleagues.

On a scale of one to ten:

  • 9 – 10 are loyal, would recommend you to others, and would keep buying
  • 7 – 8 are indifferent and can move to other brands if they want
  • 0 – 6 are unhappy and can soil your reputation with negative comments

In a Bain and Company study, shoppers who’ve bought ten or more times from you refer 50 percent more buyers than one-time shoppers.

So the best audience to target for your referral programs is frequent buyers.

Regular shoppers are more likely to refer people to your business. And they send significantly more leads your way than anyone else.

Using SMS, which almost guarantees high open rates, ask your loyal buyers to refer people to your business. You may decide to incentivize this request for referrals too.

3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

The line separating the online and offline world is quickly blurring out. And this isn’t only about virtual or augmented reality. Even the simple mobile phone has become instrumental in bringing your local store online.

Use attractive offers in your retail shops to ask your in-store shoppers to subscribe via SMS in exchange for incentives. You can offer different discount types, depending on your strategy. For instance, asking your customers to subscribe using a short code by SMS for a credit card.

4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement

SMS marketing is a business growth strategy that helps you engage your customers. As you might imagine, engaged customers buy more from you.

Hence, you can measure the success rate of your marketing campaign by sending messages with trackable links. These types of messages make it easy to track your customers’ engagement with your marketing messages.

Return to the Table Of Contents

5. Use SMS for Call to Action

Since the click-through rate (CTR) is high with SMS, leverage it to deliver timely messages to your audience.

However, not all Call to Action (CTA) is appropriate for SMS. With a maximum of 160 characters, your SMS can’t have lengthy texts that end with “Read More,” or pitches that end with “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”

However, your timely messages can use:

  • Click the link
  • Call us
  • Text back
  • Visit us

Yes, that sort of thing. You want them to act.

6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns

Defective products can impact your reputation negatively. Hence, as an obligation, you must recall hazardous products that result from design and production errors.

Image Credit: GS1 New Zealand

You want to act speedily when notifications of product defects reach you. And an SMS platform can help. You can use text messages to manage single product defects to mass defects.

Leveraging SMS, you can quickly reach your customers with information on the status of your product, and guide them on the next course of action.

Image Credit: Lontae

For mass defects, your first call would be to stop all distribution of the product, then send recall notification to your customers through SMS.

7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate

Some businesses either use Email or SMS in their marketing campaign, but savvy ones use both channels strategically.

Since emails convey detailed messages well, you can use it for lengthy conversations that require explanations. Furthermore, an email allows attachments like brochures and downloadable documents. But the chances are that most of your customers won’t see the email.

Hence, you want to leverage the higher open rate of text messaging to boost your email open-rate.

In one Smart Insights report, SMS helped businesses experience a 20 to 30 percent boost in their email open. A simple message that asked eads, “have you read our email?” did the magic.

8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness

Building your brand takes more than having a catchphrase, brilliant logo designs, and brand colors. You want your customers to remember you.

To stay top-of-the-mind, you can use SMS strategies like

  • Keeping track of and sending anniversary messages to your customers
  • Sending them tips and helpful information on using your product or service
  • Offering discounts and promotions
  • Giving them party invites
  • Sharing news headlines if appropriate

And more. Here are some examples.

A local Domino’s Pizza stays top-of-the-mind by offering discounts via text messages.

Another brand, ARM, also uses discounts sent via SMS to invite their leads to sign up for their program.

You may also use trackable URLs in your SMS to uncover the best send times for your messages. And then take advantage of the timing when running your campaign.

Up to 90 percent of your customers would read your message. So if you’re offering discounts, you want to be ready for the rush. For example, make sure your staff can fulfill your offers on time.

9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback

Sending your buyers a survey immediately they leave your store can help you get a sense of how satisfied they feel about your food or their shopping experience at your place.

This point can also be helpful for an event if you host online or offline events. When a session ends, get a quick sense of what your attendees enjoyed and what they didn’t like. And then, use that feedback to improve on your coming event sessions.

You can send your leads to a page on your website or app to leave a short survey like the one below.

Surveys and feedback can help you discover profitable patterns you can leverage to boost your revenue and customer satisfaction.

10. Abandoned Cart Notification

Trying to recover all abandoned carts is a waste of time because, on average, approximately 70 percent of shopping carts are abandoned. As high as 92 percent of the visitors to a retail website have no intention to buy.

You can automate your SMS such that when a customer adds products to their cart without checking out, they receive notification automatically. But you must have collected their phone numbers to make this possible. You must send the abandoned cart SMS fast and create an easy link for them to get back to the cart.

You can increase your success rate by offering incentives, such as discounts and free deliveries.

11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service

Customers want you to keep them in the loop. So you could send them delivery tracking notifications about their purchases by SMS.

More so, you can use SMS for customer service. This Australian health care service does with their patients, see the message above.

Brands like Amazon and DHL already use this channel because it’s effective. You can copy them safely.

12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates

Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
Most businesses have come to rely on email for their product launch and for keeping their customers updated about new stocks or improvements. But SMS can offer exciting opportunities too.

You can inform your target audience about new products, discounts, services, and events via text messages. Studies have shown that SMS might even be more potent than email.

SMS messages have a 209 percent higher response rate than messages on apps, email, or Facebook. In one study, sales leads who got a text message during a product launch converted 40 percent higher than those who didn’t get a text message.

Salesforce says that 89 percent of marketers report that SMS marketing commands more results than business websites and display ads. More so, 82 percent of marketers either maintained or increased their investment in SMS marketing.

In short, using SMS to launch your product gets you the types of results you love.

13. Manage Your Customer Appointments

If you offer services, you might want to confirm or remind your customers of an appointment via SMS. You’d reduce the chances of cancellation because 70 percent of respondents agree that using SMS is a good way to get their attention.

Likewise, if you choose to stay open to accommodate late buyers, you can inform your busy customers of extended hours.

14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People

Text messages can create a sense of urgency around your discount, coupon codes, or flash sales. Due to the fast open and response rates of SMS, you can get a response almost instantly.

So you can compile the phone numbers of leads who respond and target them in future campaigns.

Mobile coupons allow you to send your brand codes to customers quickly. You can send them as coupon codes via SMS that they can present at check out.


Get Savvy: Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

It’s action time. But you don’t have to act on everything. Take one or a few ideas that resonate with you. And put them to work. That’s what works.

Decide on what goals matter most to your business right now. Is earning more money the most import thing right now? Would earning more trust boost your business value better? Or would you rather get more referrals now?

It’s time to get savvy. Choose a goal and take action today.