Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

What is 2FA?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important security measure which allows you to add an extra security layer in addition to your password. By adding in this extra layer, you are allowing yourself to be more secure as you are making it much harder for hackers to break into your account. It is a two-step verification process in which a user needs to provide two different authentication factors before they can access an account. This makes it important for protecting account information such as logging into a banking app, changing account details like passwords, or signing into an account from a different device.

How does 2FA work?

Two-factor authentication works by adding in another level of security when you are looking to sign into an account, change account details or log in from another device. This can be in several forms with the most common being a code that is sent to your mobile device. When you setup and account sometimes it will ask you to setup a 2FA method that can be used.

When you try to log into an account or change something you will be asked to complete whatever 2FA you chose when you setup the account. You need to complete this 2FA before you can access any part of your account.

Why passwords are not enough

As 2FA’s are in place to help protect your account you may be wondering why a password isn’t good enough to protect your account. With a password you need to ensure that it is strong enough and that no one will be able to predict what it is. Hackers can brute force passwords (trying the most common passwords) to attempt to crack the weaker ones.

Even with a highly complex password there are still numerous ways that a hacker can gain the knowledge of what your password is. Spyware, Phishing and Data Breaches are all ways that passwords can find out what your password is. By having 2FA enabled on your account you are ensuring that if a hacker gets your password, they are still unable to access your account, making 2FA a powerful security measure.

Common types of 2FA

There are numerous different types of two-factor authentication methods that can be used all ranging in their overall security. Below is a list of some of the most common types of 2FA that are used.

SMS Verification

Many services allow you to sign up with a mobile number allowing you to use SMS messages as your 2FA. SMS messages are a short on-time-use code that allow you to access whatever you are entering your password for. This allows you to have extra security as someone is extremely unlikely to have your mobile phone meaning they won’t be able to access your account.

App-Generated Codes

You are also able you use authenticator apps that generate a code on your mobile phone. These apps provide you with a code that alternates every 30 seconds. The code that appears on the app will need to be entered along with your password to access your account.

Physical Authentication Keys

Physical Authentication keys are another option that are becoming more popular as it is a physical USB key that you plug into your computer. This means that there is no code that you need to type in making it more secure as there is no code that could be intercepted.

Email-Based Systems

Another common authentication method is through email. This is like SMS messages however you receive the code in an email. You will be provided with a one-time code that you will need to enter along with your password to gain access. This isn’t as secure as other methods as it is easy for someone to gain access to your email account.

Phone Call

This method is most common with Microsoft as they offer a 2FA phone call when you are attempting to sign into a Microsoft account. Upon entering your password to your account, you will receive a phone call asking you to press the Pound key on your phone or handheld. This is a secure method as there is no code being transmitted and you would know when it is you logging into your account as the phone call is only sent when you enter your password.

How to turn on 2FA

Every website, app or service has a different method to turning on 2FA but generally you are asked about it on sign up or you can find it in the settings of your account. Some websites and apps require you to complete a 2FA sign in every time you login whereas others will only challenge you if you are on a different device, on a new browser or on a different IP address that you haven’t logged into from before.

If you are looking for some advice on how to get 2FA setup on your account, then call us on 01324 469 200 where you can speak to one of our IT technicians. Alternatively, if you are looking for IT Consultancy then we are happy to provide your business with the most suitable IT solutions, read more on this here.

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