Why Use Two Factor Authentication?

What is 2FA (2-step verification)?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a sort of security procedure that requires users to provide two separate forms of identity, most often knowledge of an email address and evidence of mobile phone ownership.

By making it more difficult for hackers to get unauthorized access, even if they manage to get beyond the first authentication stage (e.g., brute force a username and password), 2FA, when used in addition to the standard username/password verification, strengthens security.

To strengthen access restrictions to the most sensitive portions of a web service (such as admin panels or regions that contain credit card information and/or personal data), 2FA is frequently used today in online banking websites, social networking platforms, and e-commerce sites.

Additionally, two-factor authentication makes it possible for companies and government agencies to operate more effectively and productively by letting workers work remotely with fewer security worries.

Techniques of Multi-Factor Authentication

MFA identification falls within one of three categories:

Knowledge factors (things the user is aware of) include things like usernames, passwords, the answers to security questions, and the CVV number on the back of a credit card. Possession factors (items the user owns): Examples of this sort of authentication include a card reader, USB token, and a mobile phone.

Inherence factors (something the user is or possesses) – This sort of authentication relates to distinctive physical characteristics that are intrinsic to a single individual, such as voice recognition, fingerprint readers, and retinal scans.

The 2FA technique often checks the user’s identification against a knowledge factor in addition to one of the other two factor kinds. An excellent example is using an ATM, where the bank requests your credit card (possession element) and personal identification number (knowledge component) to withdraw money.

Different forms of two-factor authentication

It’s simple to set up and utilize 2FA, and enabled accounts are substantially less at risk than those without it. The following are some examples of two-factor authentication you may find online:

Two-factor authentication hardware tokens. A hardware token is a little gadget connected to your network or website. It goes through a series of numbers that are created at random. The website or network will prompt you for the current number on the token when you try to log in, and only that number will work.

It’s not ideal since these little tokens are vulnerable to hacking and because most individuals aren’t as devoted to them as they are to their iPhone or Android phone, which makes them easier to lose.

Text messaging (SMS) and voice-based.  Since practically everyone always has their phone with them, smartphone 2FA is one of the most popular kinds of 2FA. You log in by inputting the code the website gives to your phone by SMS or voice call. It is unlikely that a hacker would successfully access both if you lock your phone with a totally different password from the one you use to safeguard your account.

However, SMS-based 2FA is rapidly losing its security. Hackers have been able to take control of your phone number through a method known as SIM swapping. Although it’s still very uncommon, businesses have responded by focusing elsewhere. Apps for encrypted communications are becoming more popular as a result.

2FA Software Tokens. The benefit of SMS-based 2FA was that a hacker was less likely to obtain both your phone and password. This benefit is no longer present because text messages may now be intercepted.

Software tokens for 2FA are useful in this situation. Installing the program on your phone or laptop will ensure that only the individual with access to that device can log in since they are tied to the device and not the phone number.

2FA Push Notification. Push notifications are even more secure than software tokens or SMS,. To prevent SMS interception or remote device access, a push notification is sent straight to your phone. They’re excellent at preventing man-in-the-middle attacks, which is one way that email may be protected.

Additional two-factor authentication methods. As more devices adopt biometric 2FA, you could start utilizing your fingerprint, face recognition, or eye scan to log in. But it isn’t flawless. Because of this, researchers are hard at work developing tools that can identify speech patterns, typing speed, and even ambient noise.

Two-factor authentication examples

With the devices belonging to its customers, Apple frequently employs two-factor authentication. They benefit from the iCloud’s strong security and connectivity to all of your devices. They send a 2FA code to one of your other Apple devices, like your iPad, when they notice you trying to log in but unsure whether it’s you.

To keep their employees’ actions as concealed as possible, several businesses use 2FA solutions that were especially created for them. For employees who perform crucial roles at a corporation, a hardware token provides a safe verification solution.

Negative aspects of two-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication, including 2FA, is a dependable and efficient method for preventing unauthorized access. It still has certain drawbacks, though. These consist of:

  • Increased login time – Logging into a program requires users to complete an additional step, which lengthens the procedure.
  • Integration – 2FA typically relies on services or hardware offered by other parties, such as a cell service provider sending text message verification codes. Due to the lack of control the organization has over these external services in the event of a failure, this presents a dependence issue.
  • Maintenance – In the absence of a reliable mechanism for managing a user database and a variety of authentication techniques, ongoing maintenance of a 2FA system may prove to be a nuisance.

Disabling two-factor authentication

Typically, you can stop two-factor authentication using the same account security and privacy settings that you used to enable it. You may disable two-factor authentication on Facebook by going to Security & login settings > Turn off using two-factor authentication. Your password must be entered, and a confirmation window will appear.

If you receive a new phone number, for instance, or if it’s too hard to handle right now, you might need to do this. Just be careful to activate it again as soon as you can.

Security for web applications and 2FA

To secure your website, two-factor authentication can help by thwarting a variety of application-based assaults.

To guess a user’s credentials, these include brute force and dictionary assaults, in which the perpetrators utilize automated software to produce a huge number of username/password combinations. When 2FA is enabled, these attacks fail because, even if attackers are successful in learning a user’s password, they are still missing the second piece of identity required to access the application.

In addition, social engineering attacks like phishing and spear phishing, which try to trick a user into disclosing sensitive information like their login and password, can be thwarted by apps using two-factor authentication. A perpetrator would still need the additional form of identity demanded by a 2FA solution even in the case of a successful assault.

As a result, 2FA is a crucial need for certification under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS), which are used to protect credit and debit card transactions from data theft and fraud.

Moving Forward

A recent study found that weak, repeated, and stolen passwords continue to be a major contributor to security breaches. Unfortunately, for many businesses, passwords continue to be the primary (or only) method of user protection. The good news is that people are demanding enhanced security from the businesses they do business with since cybercrime is receiving so much attention in the media.