Passwords and Forgotten Usernames

Passwords and Forgotten Usernames

We’ve talked before about the importance of creating a solid and secure password. Forgetting your password is more common than you think, but what happens when it’s a username you’ve forgotten? In order to regain a lost username, you have to verify your identity with authentication factors.

Those factors are:

Knowledge factors

You’ve seen these before. This is the process by which you answer a question, insert a PIN, or share a secret.

Inherence factors

These biometrics use the user as the authenticator. This can be mapped to physical characteristics such as fingerprints, face, and voice. Behavioral biometrics that include speech patterns and keystroke dynamics are also possible.

Possession factors

This is something that the user has in their possession. An ID card, a smartphone, and security tokens are all examples of possession factors. Keep in mind that the smartphone’s number will have to be on record, and be able to receive texts to verify your identity.

Location and time factors

You will have to verify your location, authenticate specific locations, and/or respond within a specific time frame to be verified.

The identity process can be summarized in two types: single-factor authentication (SFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA). More intense authentication can occur, but that is rare. You can learn more about four-and five-factor authentication here.

Single-factor authentication is simple. You provide one factor for this level of security. In most cases, inputting your password is enough to have your username appear either on the screen or through an email from the site. If you’ve forgotten your password, some sites will allow you to input your email address. Note that the only email address it will send to is the one you have listed as your contact email through that site. If you’ve forgotten your username, password, and can’t access the original email address you signed up with, your only course of action is to contact the site administrator. If it’s your site, your web administrator can reset passwords and update information.

Two-factor authentication is also known as two-step verification. This is where you have a secondary form of identification. Think of it as an added layer of armor. In this instance, knowing just the password isn’t enough to get into your account. You will need to know your password and/or provide two of the authenticators mentioned above. The authenticator you use will depend on your software or site, so keep that in mind.

If you’ve locked yourself out, you can always contact customer service. You can maintain a list of usernames either physically or digitally. Make sure you keep your usernames in a secure location, but don’t put the website address or password with it. Keep your accounts secure, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

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