Okta Auth API: We roll auth so you don’t have to

Secure authentication is crucial for customers using your app. But building an authentication model for your application from the ground up is not easy for your developers. From dealing with conflicting user schemas to easing the flow of data between components, managing and protecting user accounts is probably not your team’s favorite part of building your application.

In this post, we’ll break down why building in-house authentication at scale is complex, how broken authentication models can leave your users vulnerable to account takeovers, and explore how Okta can help build a seamless authentication model for your application.

The challenge: Building robust authentication at scale

A crucial part of your app’s success is rooted in maintaining a high standard of security without compromising on customer experience. You want your customers to log into your app with as little friction as possible. But you can’t brush security to the wayside, lest your organization makes headline news as another victim of a major data breach.

That said, building out an effective authentication protocol from the ground up leads to a number of challenges for developers.

Building authentication from scratch wastes time

As your web application scales to millions of users and identities, maintaining the code base associated with every part of the application will become increasingly complicated—and the authentication elements are no exception.

The building blocks of authentication include:

  • User registration
  • User login
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Authorization (groups, permissions, etc.)
  • Social login

Because of the complexity of setting up these user flows, building a modern identity solution takes an average of 6 months, slowing down the time to market for your application. Not ideal.

Poor authentication experience drives users away

Nailing authentication for the customer experience at scale is crucial. As mentioned above, a major factor in the success or failure of your app is rooted in the user experience. In fact, sign-on friction causes a 70% increase in app abandonment for users on average.

Broken authentication puts users at risk

According to OWASP, broken authentication is the 2nd most critical web application risk that leads to organizational exposure. When authentication is implemented incorrectly, attackers can compromise passwords, keys or session tokens, or exploit other implementation flaws to execute account takeovers.

Account takeover fraud has heavy costs, with an estimated cost of $5.1 billion to consumers in 2017 (a 120% increase from 2016) and more than 62.2 million hours of lost productivity. Definitely not the kind of experience you want your users to be having with your app.

Build secure, scalable apps with Okta’s Authentication API

App development teams should consider taking a second look at how they handle authentication, and possibly offload the complexity of building their authentication models.

The Okta Authentication API handles all the complexity you would face when managing user accounts for your app. It provides operations to authenticate users, perform multi-factor enrollment and verification, recover forgotten passwords, and unlock accounts.

This API allows developers to build their own end-to-end login experience to replace the built-in Okta login experience, and implement the following authentication elements:

  • Primary authentication allows you to verify username and password credentials for a user.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) strengthens the security of password-based authentication by requiring additional verification of another factor such as a temporary one-time password or an SMS passcode.
  • Self-service recovery allows users to securely reset their password if they’ve forgotten it, or unlock their account if it has been locked out due to excessive failed login attempts. This functionality is subject to the security policy set by the administrator.

With a range of additional features to build out your authentication experience, from out of the box sign in pages, to secure behind-the-scenes authentication, Okta’s Authentication API builds a seamless, secure authentication experience for your customers.

To learn more about the Authentication API, visit Authentication API @ Okta or check out how you can Add Authentication to Any Web Page in 10 Minutes.