Online security is a never ending topic. Especially when you know that there are more and more people online each day and all of them need to protect themselves. With more people using the web on a daily basis, there is also an increase in online thefts and security breaches a good layer of protection is Two-Factor Authentication.
Believe it or not, the majority of hacks and losses of accounts or information happens because people’s passwords get discovered or breached in some way. Most people have unsecure passwords or they simply don’t act accordingly in order to protect them.
Most of us think that “it won’t happen to me”, but when it does, we quickly realize how being reckless can quickly backfire. Having a lone password is a very vulnerable solution and this is why implementing Two-Factor Authentication is the right answer. Chances are that you are probably using this kind of authentication with debit cards when you have to enter a PIN code.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
This security measure has been used for a while now and it allows people to add another layer of security to their login process. Essentially, it means adding a second requirement apart from your password and username. This is why it’s called Two-Factor Authentication.
There are three requirements that you can add as an additional security measure including:
- A piece of information that you know such as a PIN number or an additional password.
- A device that you own such as mobile phone.
- A Proof such as fingerprint scan, retina scan or a biometric layer.
Two-Factor Authentication security is a combination of any of the two requirements that we just mentioned. In business, the first and second example are usually combined because they are the least expensive, while user experience is on a higher level.
A device that you own gives you the solution for your passcode as you receive it through an email, voice or SMS. This means that the logon process includes a password and a passcode that the user must enter correctly.
How to use the second factor
After entering your password, which is the number 1 authentication factor, you will get the second one via SMS in most cases, and sometimes through an email or voice message. This SMS will contain your numerical code that you will have to enter correctly in order to gain access to the account.
However, the difference between your debit card PIN code and the Two-Factor authentication code is that you have one PIN code permanently while the 2FA changes every time you try to log into your account. This means that you will always receive a brand new code.
With this measure, the level of security is greatly increased. For example, if your PIN is compromised, it might take days, if not weeks to get a brand new debit card with a unique PIN code. With a 2FA code, you can simply log out and go forward with a brand new login to change the code instantly.
The alternative is to get an authentication app through which you can receive your 2FA codes if you don’t want to receive them through texts or emails. The Two-Factor Authentication Google provides is one of the popular apps alongside Duo Mobile and Authy.
App or SMS?
A lot of service providers and sites such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft offer both authentication apps and SMS authentication. Still, there are Two-Authentication solutions that limit you only to SMS such as with Twitter. If you can, choose the authentication app, if not, the SMS can work as well.
SMS codes are much less secure than getting codes through an app. This is because hackers can hijack phones or intercept text messages and switch the authentication location to a different device. Additionally, if your text messages are synced with your computer, a hacker might breach it to see your SMS codes.
On the other hand, an authentication app doesn’t rely on the carrier. The codes are sent to the device depending on the “shared secret” you have and the moment you decide you need it. The codes that are sent expire in just a minute and given the fact that the app doesn’t rely on the carrier to send codes, even if the devices are hijacked and switched, the code will stay within the app.
The app offers better protection but it requires some additional setting up. To do this, you will first have to install it and add your shared secret as mentioned earlier. This secret is shared between accounts and your app. In most cases, you do this by scanning a designated QR code using the camera of your phone.
How 2FA effects account security
There are no security products that guarantee foolproof protection but 2FA definitively offers better protection of your accounts. Not only that you will add security and make your accounts a more difficult target, but most hackers will simply give up when they realize that you have 2FA security.
Most hackers don’t have the knowledge to get past this security measure and even if they do, they will give up because it requires a lot of time and work. Two-factor authentication protects your accounts even if someone has your password.
The hacker would need your phone, access to tokens that you get with an authentication mechanism or be able to insert malware into your app or phone. This is a lot of extra work and the chances of someone being able to pull this are really low, especially if you are careful with your passwords and your devices.
In the end, Two-Factor authentication requires a little bit of extra work when logging in, as you will always have to make that second step, but in return, you will get much better security. You will get used to it really quickly like you got used to entering your password. Still, make sure that you set a strong password because you shouldn’t make the first factor weak just because you have a second one. You want ore, flexible and better security that is what LogMeOnce PasswordLess solution provides which is automatic two factor authentication.