Passwords are the keys that access your company’s data. Because of this, cybercriminals are continuously trying to come up with ways to easily decipher them. And, sadly, advancements in technology have provided hackers with the tools to test millions of password combinations per second. So, you should add an extra layer of security to your company’s data by utilizing two-factor authentication (2FA).
Two-factor authentication, sometimes referred to as multifactor authentication, is a method used to verify a users identity by requiring additional credentials before being able to access an account. And, having an additional step of authentication makes it a lot more difficult for hackers to access your company’s information.
In today’s post, we will discuss the four main types of two-factor authentication, ranked in order of effectiveness.
Text Message Code
Codes sent via SMS are the most common form of two-factor authentication. For this reason, two-factor authentication by text message is the least secure method. Why? Because a semi-skilled hacker can easily exploit weaknesses in your phone’s network to steal two-factor codes. SMS messages are not encrypted, therefore, personal information can easily be leaked. And if your phone is lost or stolen, you’ll end up with even bigger issues. Although this is not the most effective method, it’s still better than having nothing at all.
Authentication App Code
This type of two-factor authentication works similarly to text message, except you have to install an app on your phone. And each time you log in you’ll get a code sent to your app. The difference between apps and SMS codes is that in an app, codes are sent over an HTTPS connection, making it near-impossible for anyone to swoop in and steal the code before you use it. However, if you lose your phone or if your phone gets infected with malware, your codes can be stolen when they are sent to your device.
Biometrics, such as facial recognition, fingerprints, or an iris scan are typically seen in large enterprises because they require specialized hardware and software. However, even though this kind of two-factor authentication requires advanced technology, one downside of this method is that it can be spoofed i.e., cloning a fingerprint or creating a 3D-printed head.
Of all the two-factor authentication methods mentioned, a physical key is considered the strongest. Security keys are USB sticks that you can keep on your key ring. When you log in to your account, you are prompted to insert the cryptographically unique key into your computer and that’s it. So, even if someone steals your password, they can’t log in without that key. And phishing pages won’t work because only the legitimate sites support security keys. The only downside is that not many sites support security keys, yet. And you have to buy two security keys — one as a backup. Luckily, security keys are inexpensive. However, you have to keep one key safe because if both keys are lost or stolen, even the company that stores your data might not be able to get you back into your account.
Having a password and an extra factor authentication does not make your account 100% secure. But, it does make it more difficult to breach.