Remembering passwords is always a problem, especially when you have countless websites that require a login to view or interact with their content. To simplify the process (with just a few clicks), webmasters around the world have accepted and implemented social logins on their websites.
Social connection: of course, it’s convenient. But is it really safe?
So what is it exactly social connection? What is the difference from the traditional method of manually entering your credentials such as username, email address and password? More importantly, is it safe enough to be used on all kinds of boating activities?
In this article, we answer all of the above questions and more, to help you understand what social authentication is and what are the downsides of this convenient method.
The history of social connections
Social authentication as a method of hassle-free authentication has been around for over a decade now. In the early days of the modern Internet in 2008, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, a service to simplify website signups.
Once webmasters enabled FB Connect on their websites, site visitors would no longer need to fill out lengthy registration forms to sign up for website offerings.
All they had to do was connect their existing Facebook account to the website, allowing direct access to the site with a single click.
In 2009 and 2010, Twitter and LinkedIn respectively enabled their users to connect socially to other sites using their existing social media credentials..
Google+ followed suit in 2011, and although it is no longer active as Google+, it still supports social login using a Google account.
While it all sounds very convenient, there are many drawbacks and challenges with social authentication that impact both visitors and website owners.
Social authentication: challenges and drawbacks
The trust factor
Most internet users do don’t trust the websites they visit store and use their personal information in a safe and responsible manner. Often, website visitors are concerned about how the information they have shared will be used.
In a June 2020 survey by Insider Intelligence, 32% of US Facebook users felt they disagreed somewhat with the platform being able to protect their data and privacy.
People tend to be wary of private information they share online; they often resort to uploading falsified or inaccurate information about themselves on social media.
Since these social media sites do not verify or guarantee the authenticity of their users’ information, this might be less than ideal for a website looking for accurate data while accepting new user registrations.
In 2019, Facebook released data indicating that 16% of accounts on its platform are fake / duplicate accounts created by individuals or businesses. What is more concerning are the findings of the NATO StratCom research team which suggest that 95% of the fake accounts reported are still active, with no action taken by the social media website.
With no verification of the actual profile used to socially log into your website, you might soon have an imposter, Donald Trump or Joe Biden signing up for your global warming newsletter or buying a bag of your freshly made Mexican coffee. in powder.
Not everyone is social – nor on social media
As we talk about social media, we need to understand that while it is a global phenomenon with an incredibly high number (read 3.6 billion) of people using it, there is still a significant part (> 50%) of the population that is not on social networks.
By using a restrictive method, you risk alienating a part of society that could be yours. potential target audience.
Transfer of power
Enabling social login looks pretty appealing at first, given that it would reduce your authentication work in a meaningful way. But that same “benefit” could end up costing you dearly, as you lose control of your visitors’ data to a third-party service provider – the social media network.
If there was a downtime at the end of the social media service, would your website visitors be stuck, unable to log into your site or access their data?
Access control issues
Many internet access places tend to have controls in place when it comes to accessing social media. For example, corporate and educational networks typically block access to social websites. Some countries like Iran, China, Syria, and North Korea impose blanket bans on popular social websites.
Social login still depends on an API callback to the social networking site to authenticate the user. So, by setting up social authentication on your website, visitors authenticating to your site through these networks would end up with a website whose functionality no longer works.
Social media accounts are often the target of multiple hacking and phishing attempts. So, if your user’s social media account is hacked, it could result in their account being compromised on your site.
A study from the University of Maryland found a hack attempt every 39 seconds on average, affecting a third of Americans each year.
Hacked social accounts could also negatively impact your website, performing activities that could consume your server resources or corrupt your files, if your security is not up to par. Secure authentication is the need of the moment, and knowledge of security practices will help resolve these issues.
Too many choices
People use a lot of social media websites, so keeping just one social ID can be counterproductive. However, providing multiple login methods could likely confuse or overwhelm your visitor, resulting in lower conversion or signup rates.
Less data to work with
Using a social login for your website would mean limited access to user data, especially emails. Not all social media networks allow websites to access the customer’s email address. For businesses that rely on customer information for lead generation, this would be a major disruption.
Awareness of all security practices and faults (sawolabs dotcom) will help educate users as well as website owners.
If it’s not a social connection, then what?
All of the above drawbacks would cause webmasters to question the effectiveness of social authentication. But then, is there a better alternative that does not have such shortcomings?
Say hello to passwordless authentication powered by SAWO Labs. A new generation solution designed to meet all concerns of security, compatibility and functionality.
Image credit: yellow graphic – from the author; Thank you!
Top Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; Thank you!