Social Authentication - How good or bad it is?

To reduce the complexity of registration processes and need to remember multiple passwords, organizations have moved towards use of Social Authentication or Social Login.

Social Authentication is a type of authentication technique which minimizes the complication to website entry by lowering the need for usernames and passwords and allows users to authenticate using their existing social media identities and pre-verified user accounts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). Users can simply use their credentials (username and passwords) of their social accounts to login to the website.  The protocols used to achieve social authentication are OpenID, SAML & OAuth.

How is Social Authentication different from other Authentication Mechanisms?

            Social authentication is more dynamic in nature where it depends on all Open Standard Protocols like OpenId, OAuth & SAML, while others are more product centric. With social Authentication you can use the same credentials on multiple sites whereas conventional authentication mechanisms compare the data entered with data stored in respective site’s database.

Benefits of Social Authentication?

            Major benefit of social authentication is that a user need not to remember multiple credentials for multiple websites. User can login to websites through their existing social identities (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). Social authentication makes personalization more effective by learning user’s social activities, interests etc. which helps in improving user experience on various websites. This authentication technique is extremely useful for organizations who indulge in activities like obtaining social profiles and social graph data to provide better services to its users.

Drawbacks of Social Authentication?

            Social authentication poses a threat with extreme dependency on social services thus may lose user base. Lot of personal data is shared with other websites and there is always a threat probability on user privacy. OpenId has security weakness and is vulnerable to phishing attacks. Social authentication causes loss of control to third party. If your Facebook, LinkedIn Id is deactivated you cannot access the third party site.

Authored by Apoorva Prakash

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