The key to obtaining unauthorized information comes from stealing user credentials. Hackers will steal passwords, use them to access administrative accounts, and then hack them on databases, servers, or use malware to steal sensitive information.
When companies have strong and unique passwords, the needs for two-factor authentication is decreased. Determining and remembering strong passwords for multiple accounts can be challenging, so many networks abandon safety for convenience.
People use 2FA for an extra layer of security. If your password is one layer, the two-factor authentication will protect you if your password is too weak.
Ways to Authenticate
There are multiple ways to obtain a “two factor,” but most involve combining your username/password with an independent factor.
Here are the 3 different authentication methods:
- Something you are (fingerprint, eye retina scan, or voice print)
- Something you have (token, key, smart card, virtual smart card or other electrical devices). These are usually physical items that’s unique to the user.
- Something you know (PIN, passcode, password, and any other forms of verification based on information that the user should know).
Some commonly used authentication methods are
- Using a smartphone app or a tablet, your account is verified with a username and password to access your private banking files.
- Obtaining a numeric code in an SMS message on your primary smartphone and then using it in addition to your username and password to log in a secure site.
- Using a PIN and bank card to withdraw funds from an ATM.
- Create an email account to receive confirmation when you provide your username and password to access multiple secure websites.
It’s easy when discussing the three different 2-factor authentication solutions to assume that they are equally secure. But factors can vary in strength and security, making it difficult to stick to just one authentication method.
If one factor is weaker, it can be compensated via a stronger second factor. Thanks to 2 factor authentication solution, users can create a password that’s easy to remember and still stay safe because it’s combined with an additional factor.
Biometrics are secure in one way as it’s convenient to the user and, e.g., Iris scanning or using fingerprints to receive access to a device. However, you’re unable to change biometric information after it’s been compromised.
A dedicated hardware token that creates a One-Time Password is more secure than One-Time Passwords sent via SMS to an unknown network to an unverified smartphone. However, using a one month token can be viewed as less secure than smartphone solutions. This is because the user might not discover that the token is lost if they seldom use it.
Password strength is based on the numbers and variety of characters. For instance, a 15 character “[email protected]” is stronger than an 8 character password such as “Winter05.”
Your 2 factor authentication solution will determine if your network survives or crashes. This means that you need to make your 2FA solution just as robust as the previous authentication method. In conclusion, use 2FA methods to prevent hackers from taking what’s rightfully yours.