Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a specific type of multi-factor authentication (MFA) that strengthens access security by requiring two methods to verify your identity.
Most of our daily activities take place on mobile and laptop devices. This has made our digital accounts attract criminals from all corners of the world.
Malicious attacks against governments, companies, institutions, and individuals are happening now and then. These hacks, data breaches, and other forms of cybercrime are not slowing down soon.
Luckily, it’s easy for individuals and businesses to add an extra level of protection to user accounts in the form of two-factor authentication.
These factors include something you know for instance your username and password plus something you have like a smartphone app to approve authentication requests.
This creates an element of a zero trust security model. This translates to a scenario where you are being challenged to prove your identity further even if you have the login password.
To protect sensitive data, you must verify that the users trying to access that data are who they say they are.
What Two-Factor Authentication Protects You From
2FA is an effective way to protect against many security threats that target user passwords and accounts, such as;
- Brute-force attacks
- Credential exploitation
- Hacking and many more
Two-factor authentication protects and secures your logins from attackers exploiting weak or stolen credentials.
The 2FA sends a second authentication factor to a physical device that is not readily available to an attacker. This authentication factor is in most cases just a bunch of codes.
Common Types of 2FA
Any site that offers password-only protection is not good as it can be hacked at any time. There are various types of Two-Factor Authentication used.
- Hardware Tokens for 2FA – these are small gadgets, like a key fob that produces a new numeric code every 30 seconds. The device provides a 2FA code to the user when they try to access an account.
- SMS Text-Message and Voice-based 2FA – they communicate with a user’s phone directly by sending a one-time passcode (OTP) through text message. Like the hardware token, the OTP code must be entered into the application to gain access. Likewise, voice-based 2FA delivers the code verbally after dialling the user’s number.
- Software Tokens for 2FA – this is a popular form of two-factor authentication that uses a software-generated time-based one-time passcode (TOTP aka soft-token). The user downloads and installs a free 2FA app on their smartphone, laptop or desktop. The app is then used with any site that supports this type of authentication. To sign in, the user enters the username and password and then is prompted for a code that is shown on the app.
- Push Notification for 2FA – in this type of 2FA, a website or app being accessed sends the user a push notification that an authentication attempt is taking place. The device owner has the prerogative to accept or deny access with a single touch of the screen.
How to Activate the Two-Factor Authentication
Many sites and apps support the use of 2FA to help combat the rise of hackers who target their users.
Most apps and websites have two-factor authentication and are activated via security options. Locate the security options button and read through the provided options. Once you find the 2FA option, click on it and follow the instructions.
If the instructions are not clear, it is also possible to do an online search for the same. You will find numerous articles that will guide you. Be wise and protect your online presence now.