Login security violations have become commonplace in recent years. We heard about phishing attacks, stolen passwords and malware that collected all our keystrokes. Once these data breaches would have instigated a call to use stronger and more complex passwords, however research has shown that two-thirds of all breaches are specifically the result of weak or stolen passwords. The one-time reliable password has become the weakest link.
This is where two factor authentication 2fa enters. Two factor authentication 2fa is a simple but very strong way to improve security through the user’s entry order by only adding the second factor authentication to a standard username and password. To fully understand the strength of the two factors authentication, we need to have a basic understanding of the authentication itself.
Authentication – the process of verifying your identity – boils down to three simple elements:
- Something the user knows (PIN, password)
- Something the user owns (mobile phone, device)
- Something the user is (biometric, retina, fingerprint)
The issue with using just something you know – like a password – is that it can be shared, guessed, or hacked and although a username and password may seem like “two factors,” they’re actually both something you know.
Two-factor authentication on the other hand, is a combination of two of any of these unique identifiers and frequently includes information about something the user owns and something the user knows. The use of biometric information is less common since fingerprint or retina recognition software is expensive and difficult to implement.
With two-factor authentication, the logon sequence not only requires a password, but also a passcode which is sent directly to the user’s device. Although incredibly simple, incorporating these two separate identifiers in the user logon process, creates a level of protection and security for the user that even the most complex password can no longer allow. The brilliance of two-factor authentication is that it provides a seamless and cost effective solution by simply leveraging something the user already has.