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In today’s digital landscape, organisations face increasingly sophisticated threats to their systems and data. Traditional username and password based authentication methods are no longer sufficient to protect against advanced cyber attacks. This is where adaptive authentication comes into play, offering a dynamic and context-aware approach to security. In this blog post I will explore the concept of adaptive authentication and its implementation using WSO2 Identity Server, a powerful identity and access management solution.

Understanding Adaptive Authentication

Adaptive authentication is a method of authentication that analyses various factors and context-specific information to determine the level of risk associated with a login attempt. By evaluating multiple factors such as user behaviour, location, device information and time of access, organisations can make informed decisions about whether to allow or deny access. This approach enhances security by adding an additional layer of protection beyond traditional username and password authentication.

Data flow of an adaptive authentication use case

Benefits of Adaptive Authentication

Improved Security
Adaptive authentication provides a more robust security framework by continuously evaluating and adapting to changing risk factors. It allows organisations to detect and respond to potential threats in real-time, reducing the risk of unauthorised access.

User Experience
While security is paramount, user experience should not be compromised. Adaptive authentication enables organisations to strike a balance between security and convenience. By implementing step-up authentication only when necessary, organisations can minimise user friction and ensure a seamless user experience.

Cost Effective
Adaptive authentication helps reduce costs associated with data breaches and fraud. By deploying an intelligent authentication mechanism, organisations can prevent unauthorised access and mitigate potential financial losses.
Implementing Adaptive Authentication with WSO2 Identity Server
WSO2 Identity Server offers a comprehensive set of features to implement adaptive authentication effectively. Let’s explore some key capabilities:

Risk-Based Authentication
WSO2 Identity Server incorporates risk-based authentication policies that allow organisations to define rules based on risk thresholds. These policies can be customised to trigger specific actions based on risk levels, such as requiring additional factors for authentication.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
WSO2 Identity Server supports various MFA methods, such as SMS-based one time password (OTP), email-based OTP, Fast Identity Online 2 (FIDO2), and more. Organisations can choose the appropriate MFA method based on their requirements and user preferences.

Adaptive Authentication Scripts
WSO2 Identity Server provides a scripting framework that allows organisations to define custom adaptive authentication rules. These scripts enable organisations to incorporate additional factors or data sources for decision-making, such as integrating with fraud detection systems or threat intelligence platforms.

A sample authentication script is shown below.

Integration with External Systems
WSO2 Identity Server offers seamless integration capabilities with external systems, such as Security Information and Event Management solutions or fraud detection systems. This integration allows organisations to leverage existing security infrastructure and enrich the adaptive authentication process.

Best Practices for Adaptive Authentication

To make the most of adaptive authentication with WSO2 Identity Server, consider the following best practices:

Define Clear Risk Policies
Establish well-defined risk policies that align with your organisation’s security requirements. Consider factors such as user roles, access patterns and sensitive data to determine appropriate risk levels and corresponding authentication actions.

Continuously Monitor and Adjust
Regularly review and update your adaptive authentication policies to stay ahead of evolving threats and changing user behaviour patterns. Analyse authentication data and feedback from users to fine-tune your risk assessment algorithms.

Educate Users
Educate users about the importance of adaptive authentication and the role it plays in maintaining security. Encourage them to adopt MFA methods and notify them about any suspicious activity or access attempts.


As cyber threats become more sophisticated, organisations must adopt advanced authentication mechanisms to protect their systems and data effectively. Adaptive authentication, implemented through solutions like WSO2 Identity Server, offers a context-aware approach to security, enabling organisations to make dynamic decisions based on risk factors. By leveraging adaptive authentication, organisations can bolster their security posture while ensuring a seamless user experience. Embrace the power of adaptive authentication and stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.

About the Author

At Mitra Group, we are driven by a team of visionary authors who bring depth and expertise to our digital innovation solutions. Our authors combine passion, knowledge, and creativity to shape the future of technology and business.