The global pandemic has led to a huge rise in remote work, online shopping, and digital communication. While going online has several advantages, cyberattacks have also increased. In fact, 4,000 cyberattacks are reported a day since the pandemic.
If you’re not careful, your online accounts can get tampered with and violated. With that, setting a strong password is more important than ever. But bear in mind that even the strongest passwords just aren’t enough anymore.
A good way to provide an extra level of security online is to employ two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA and multi-factor authentication).
What is Two-factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication is an added layer of protection when accessing your account. Besides providing your username and password, you will be asked to give another crucial information piece that only you know. It could be one of the following:
- Something you know (i.e. a personal identification number (PIN), a password, an answer to a secret question, or a keystroke pattern)
- Something you have (i.e. a credit card, a one-time passcode (OTP), a smartphone, or a small hardware token)
- Something you are (i.e. a biometric pattern of a fingerprint, an iris scan, or a voice print)
How Does It Work?
The good thing about two-factor authentication is that it’s customisable depending on the nature of your business. To give you an idea of what you can work with, you can learn from these companies:
The search engine’s two-factor authentication activates whenever a user signs up on an unfamiliar device. Google has several authentication methods.
Users could either choose to receive their authentication code through text or phone call. The company also developed an Authenticator App where users can verify their web activities while offline. If you receive a notification through email regarding unfamiliar online activity, you can decide what to do next. The ideal step would be to change your password.
Similar to Google, Paypal also notifies users of suspicious activity and requests confirmation by sending an SMS verification code. If the user fails to authenticate, then the site immediately sets the account on security hold. This method was intended so that it prevents funds from being maxed out mistakenly.
Why Is Two-Factor Authentication Important?
While important, usernames and passwords on their own can be easy to hack. Having a 2FA system in place gives your accounts an extra layer of security, making it difficult for cybercriminals to access personal information.
What Are the Common Forms of Two-Factor Authentication?
If the website you’re trying to access requires only a password and doesn’t support two-factor authentication, it’s likely to be hacked at some point. There are several forms of two-factor authentication used today; some are stronger or more complex than others, but they all provide better security than simply using a password.
Here are the most common forms of 2FA:
SMS authentication—also known as SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) and SMS one-time password (OTP)—is one of the most common and simple forms of authentication.
After a user signs in to an app or website, they will receive a text message with a one-time code. The user then enters the code on the app or website to gain access.
The authentication app method uses a time-based one-time passcode, also called TOTP. It uses apps such as Google Authenticator, 1Password, Authy, LastPass, OTP Manager, and Microsoft Authenticator.
Once a user signs in, they will go to the authentication app to generate a time-sensitive code. Similar to SMS 2FA, the user has to enter the generated code along with their username and password in order to sign in.
Biometric authentication is a security method that involves a person’s biological characteristics. This includes retinal or iris scans, fingerprint login, face and voice recognition.
This form of authentication works by comparing a user’s biometrics to the information stored in a database. For example, a user places their finger on a fingerprint scanner. The system analyzes the image and then compares it against the stored sample. If their fingerprint matches the stored sample, the user is permitted access to the website.
A hardware token is a small hardware device, often in the form of a key fob that can be stored on a key ring. It generates a single-use numerical code at fixed intervals.
When a user needs to log in to a website, they enter their username, password, and the generated code.
What Are the Perks of Two-Factor Authentication?
This method adds a layer of security in a customised but still practical way. Two-factor authentication also throws an element of surprise, which comes in handy where hackers are concerned because they always rely on staying one step ahead of any program or system.
Each network system is not all the same but they do have similarities, which is what hackers exploit. However, the second authentication adds unpredictability— setting off hackers. Finally, the authentication method is also simple enough for users to understand and implement.
Prevent hackers from getting sensitive information
Passwords have been our main mode of digital authentication for years and are not going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean we should rely on them solely to protect our data.
Two-factor authentication is a simple but still efficient method of security. And when you have a website that deals with sensitive information, this is definitely useful for keeping your data an extra bit safe.