You must’ve read reports on the alarming growth of cyber attacks that have happened in the past couple of years owing to more and more users making their presence on the Internet. Without the proper know how of how the digital world functions, people usually tend to leave behind traces of their real world identities. In the wrong hands, such information can prove to be disastrous.
When you create an account on a website, you are asked to create a password so as to protect your account. However historically speaking, passwords are as effective as a straw in an ocean. With the advent of technology nowadays, passwords have become one of the most weakest from of security you can provide for your account. Hackers deploy various scripts and software’s in order to guess thousands of passwords per second until they hit the right match.
Now you must be thinking as to what you can do to protect your account if your passwords are not as resilient as you thought them to be. Well fret not as there is a solution for this problem. Two-Factor Authentication or simply known as 2FA is a security protocol which is used to provide additional security to your account on top of your password. Let us understand as to what 2FA is all about.
2FA is a branch of multi factor authentication, which is an electronic authentication method. In this protocol users need to verify their identity using different methods that are unique to them so as to ensure the right user has access to an account.
You must have observed this in your real life too. An ATM card is a good example of 2FA. While you do need to have physical access to your ATM card while withdrawing money, you also need to have access to your PIN in order to validate your credentials. This is a form of Two-Factor Authentication.
2FA can have various forms apart from your usual PIN number. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
Users can register their fingerprint or facial ID while creating an account and they can use it alongside their password in order to login to their account.
SMS or Voice Verification:
Users can get a code via a text or a voice message on their registered phone number which they can enter to verify their identity.
Software Token Verification:
There are certain popular Authenticator apps available on the store which generate tokens which can be used to validate your identity and gain access to your account. Some notable apps are by Microsoft and Google.
Hardware Token Verification:
You can purchase hardware pieces which can act as verification sources for your account. It can be something as common as a USB stick which needs to be configured while setting up your verification while some pieces of hardware display a code which you can enter in to the website.
Push Notification Verification:
Some websites send push notifications to your device which you need to click on and approve the login manually so as to safely access your account.
This method is used when a sudden change is detected in the login locations by a user. The website will send a notification to your device saying that a new login request was made from a particular location and will ask you to validate it to confirm whether it is truly you who has made the request.
These are the various methods that can be employed in order to have a secure Two-Factor Authentication for your account. Now that you have chosen the one most suitable to you, let us now see how to log in to your account using 2FA.
- The user proceeds to log in to their account.
- They enter their username or email and password in to the fields provided.
- If you have selected another form of login apart from your password such as a security key, the site will generate one and send it to your device. You will then need to enter it which will be further validated by the website to ensure its authenticity.
- Now you will be prompted to enter the second level of your login process which you have selected as your 2FA.
- Once you have entered the correct information, the site will validate it and give you access to your account upon successful validation.
If you own a website, you should give a thought on whether you want to implement Two-Factor Authentication for your users. With the rising number of cyber attacks on websites, it is now a matter of not if but when your website will be hacked.
Also most users on your website will not consider having different passwords for their different accounts. They might be using the same password to shop on your website which they use on their banking website. So if in case your website is hacked and the data gets leaked, the hackers will now have access to more than just their account on your website.
By using 2FA, you are able to protect your account to an extent as it requires access to more than your password. However do keep in mind, that nothing in this cyber world is considered as unhackable.
While it might some degree of protection to your account, it is not a fool-proof way of protecting it. By exploiting the Forgot Password option, hackers are able to bypass your 2FA authentication as well. It all depends on how secure your website is and a little bit of luck as well.
We hope that this article has shed some light on what Two-Factor Authentication is and how it works. By teaching you its importance, we consider that you have understood it and therefore we strongly urge you to research the best option for you and use it to secure your own accounts across the web.
Even if it doesn’t guarantee complete security for your account, it is better to have some sort of protection rather than be open to attacks from hackers.