Authentication Examples: The 3 Verification Methods to Know

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Authentication Examples: The 3 Verification Methods to Know

Authentication Examples

Imagine you’re at a grand party, the music is vibrant, the room is full of chatter, and there’s a spread of delectable treats. But before you can join in the fun, you need to pass the stern-faced bouncer at the entrance. You present your invite, he verifies it and then you’re allowed to revel in the festivities. This is very much like authentication in the digital world. It’s the process that ensures that only those with the right ‘invites’ or credentials get to access the information or service.


Authentication is a security measure that verifies a user’s identity before granting them access to certain data or systems. It’s like a digital handshake, confirming ‘you are who you say you are’.

Example 1: Password Authentication (1961). The earliest form of authentication came into play with the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) at MIT. It was the first computer system to implement a password mechanism that allowed multiple users to log in with their credentials, paving the way for modern authentication systems.

Example 2: Two-Factor Authentication (1986). Cryptographer Bruce Schneier introduced two-factor authentication (2FA) in his book “Applied Cryptography”. 2FA uses two different components to verify a user’s identity, like something they know (a password) and something they have (a cell phone to receive a verification code).

Example 3: Biometric Authentication (2000s). Apple brought biometric authentication into the mainstream with Touch ID (2013) and Face ID (2017). Using fingerprints or facial features as a form of authentication added a level of convenience and security not seen in earlier systems.

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Authentication Examples In-Depth

Password Authentication (1961)

In 1961, an innovation emerged that would lay the foundation for modern digital security: the humble password. Picture this as the first rung on the ladder of digital protection, a step into the future of online privacy.

You might be asking, why 1961? That seems rather early, doesn’t it? Well, in the bustling halls of MIT, on an ambitious project called the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), the concept of the computer password was born.

Time-sharing was a groundbreaking idea back then. For the first time, instead of one person using a computer at a time, multiple people could use it simultaneously. It was like going from a private diary, where only one person could write at a time, to a shared notebook where many could pen their thoughts. But this posed a problem: how to keep one user’s information from prying eyes?

Enter the password, a secret code known only to the user. Much like a secret handshake among friends, this password would be the ticket to access your portion of the computer system, your own little corner in the shared digital world.

Just as every house has a unique key, every CTSS user had a unique password. Before the password, anyone could wander into your digital home uninvited. But with the password, they’d need your unique key to get in. It was like giving users their very own digital lock and key.

The idea quickly caught on, and before long, passwords were the go-to method of securing accounts and systems. From email accounts to bank transactions, the legacy of the CTSS password lives on. And while this system isn’t perfect – after all, keys can be stolen, and passwords can be guessed – it was the first significant step into the world of digital security.

Fast forward to today, and we’re still using the same basic concept, albeit a bit more sophisticated. Passwords are longer, more complex, and often need to be changed regularly to keep the digital door secure.

In a way, we owe our digital privacy to that innovative team at MIT and their pioneering work on CTSS. Their bright idea of password authentication was the first step in our ongoing journey toward secure digital identities. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? How a concept so simple has had such a far-reaching impact on our digital lives.

Two-Factor Authentication (1986)

Do you remember the action-packed films where the hero has to bypass a high-tech security system? He’d need to swipe a card and then enter a code or scan his retina. Well, that’s not just Hollywood magic. In fact, that’s a perfect example of two-factor authentication, a major leap forward in digital security that was introduced in 1986.

Picture two-factor authentication as a formidable castle guard. He won’t let you in just because you know the king’s name (a password). He also needs to see a royal seal (a secondary proof) that confirms you’re a trusted person. In the digital world, this means you need two distinct types of proof to verify your identity.

Two-factor authentication was first introduced by cryptographer Bruce Schneier in his book “Applied Cryptography”. The concept was simple yet brilliant: instead of relying on just one thing to verify your identity (like a password), why not use two?

The first factor is often something you know – just like the password we talked about before. But here’s where it gets clever. The second factor is something you have, like a physical device. Think of it as a digital version of having a physical key to your house and knowing where the secret spare is hidden.

In today’s world, this second factor often takes the form of a unique code sent to your phone or generated by an app. Have you ever tried to log into a site, and it asked for a code sent to your phone? That’s two-factor authentication in action! The idea is that even if someone figures out your password, they’d also need your phone to break into your account. It’s like a double lock on your digital life.

And just like a good movie plot twist, two-factor authentication added a level of complexity that made the digital world much more secure. Suddenly, a single password was no longer enough to breach an account. Hackers now had a much harder time because they needed both the password and access to the user’s physical device.

So, next time you enter your password and then type in that code sent to your phone, take a moment to appreciate this security technique. Two-factor authentication, introduced in 1986, has become a staple in digital security. Like a dedicated guard, it works relentlessly to keep your digital castle safe from invaders. What a marvel of modern security, right?

Biometric Authentication (2000s)

Have you ever marveled at those sci-fi movies where characters access top-secret areas using their fingerprint, face, or even their eyes? Incredibly, that futuristic technology is no longer confined to the cinema screen – it’s real, it’s here, and it’s known as biometric authentication. Think of it as the digital equivalent of recognizing your best friend by their face or voice. It’s something unique, something nobody else can replicate.

In the realm of digital security, biometric authentication refers to the process of verifying your identity based on your biological or behavioral traits. It’s like a digital mirror that recognizes you, not by your name or what you have, but by who you are.

Biometric authentication truly entered the mainstream in the 2000s, with tech giant Apple leading the charge. In 2013, they introduced Touch ID, which used a person’s unique fingerprint to unlock their iPhone. Suddenly, your fingerprint became more than just a smudge on a glass – it became a key to your digital world.

A few years later, in 2017, Apple took it a step further and introduced Face ID. Now, your face was your passport. Just by looking at your device, it could recognize you as you, just like your family, friends, or a pet would. This technology is sophisticated enough to distinguish you from a photograph or even an incredibly lifelike mask.

Biometric authentication offered a new level of security and convenience. After all, you can forget a password, and you can lose a physical device, but you always have your face and fingerprints with you. And while the technology isn’t perfect – there are concerns about privacy and potential errors – it’s undoubtedly a major milestone in the ongoing evolution of digital security.

As we look to the future, the possibilities are endless. From voice recognition to retinal scanning, the traits that make us unique could become the keys to our digital lives. Biometric authentication takes the idea of personal security and makes it deeply, innately personal.

So, the next time you unlock your phone with a glance or a touch, think about the magic of biometrics at work. It’s amazing, isn’t it? How the lines between us and our technology are blurring in the name of security. Now that’s what I call a future-forward security measure!


In our digital era, the quest for secure authentication methods has been akin to an ever-evolving chess match, where technology meets cunning. From the conception of password authentication in 1961, to the added layer of security brought on by two-factor authentication, to the futuristic realm of biometric recognition, we’ve made significant strides in securing our digital lives. As we’ve seen, each innovation has had its moment of glory and its own set of challenges, yet all have played a crucial role in enhancing digital security. As we move forward into an increasingly interconnected world, these methods will continue to evolve, becoming ever more sophisticated and nuanced. Our journey into the world of authentication is far from over. Instead, it’s a riveting story still being written, page by page, with each passing day.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the main advantage of two-factor authentication?

The main advantage of two-factor authentication (2FA) is its enhanced security. Even if someone manages to learn your password, they’d need the second factor—often a device in your possession—to access your account. This dramatically reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Are biometrics secure?

While biometric data offers a high level of security due to its unique and personal nature, it is not without potential risks. The primary concern revolves around data privacy and what happens if your biometric data is stolen, as you can’t change your biometric data like you can a password. However, most biometric systems store data in a secured and encrypted format to prevent theft.

What will be the next big thing in authentication?

The future of authentication could involve a combination of several methods, often referred to as multi-factor authentication. This could include biometrics, behavioral patterns, and even more personal identifiers. With advancements in AI and machine learning, there’s also the potential for continuous authentication, where the system continually verifies the user’s identity based on behavior and usage patterns. As always, the balance between security and user convenience will guide these developments.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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