Two-factor authentication (2FA) is one of the most suitable ways to reduce the risk of the employees falling victim to an account takeover, which could expose your organization’s sensitive assets and accounts.
Increasingly agreeable with many platforms, accounts, and devices, Two Factor Authentication is one of the few cybersecurity tools that provide such strong protection with minimal effort, allowing you to implement it across your organization with little friction.
Here we’ll discuss what is 2FA and why it’s effective, and how you can execute it in your organization.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
This is a form of account security and complements traditional forms of identification , such as a password, to rapidly increase account protection.
approximately two-factor authentication requires two different forms of authentication to provide access.
- Something you are (such as a fingerprint or face ID)
- entity you know (like your password or a security question)
- Something you have (like your cell phone or a security key)
Two-factor authentication requires two of the three to provide confirmation. This means you’ll need to enter a password and click a prompt on your phone. Then enter a PIN or code that was sent to your email address.
Two-factor authentication doesn’t count if, for example, you’re swift for a password and then a security question. They are just additional forms of the same type of confirmation and do not provide as much security.
Why You Should Use Two Factor Authentication
This was born out of the need to increase account security as passwords became less and less secure.
Past data breaches have led to billions of accounts being breached, giving malicious hackers insight into the most used passwords and email and password combinations they could try on others accounts.
Hackers provied with this knowledge and brute force tools capable of entering millions of different password combinations. Therefor they have made passwords in seconds to easily exploitable. Especially since employees do not use passwords. strong passwords.
2FA guarantees that if a password were compromised it would not lead to an account takeover. Against automated attacks, 2FA has proven to be especially effective. Google research showed that the device’s 2FA quikly stopped 100% of automated bot attacks.
2FA will increases the chance of adoption and decreases the risk of your business being compromise.
Examples and Common Types of Security Authentication Options
Several types of Identification options are available. Remember that your choice should go straight to the safest option. Instead, choose the option that is likely to be adopted and supported in your organization and by your employees.
Something you know (knowledge factor)
- Password: This is the most usual: you set a password, remember it, and use it whenever you need to access an account.
- PIN: similar to a password, but often shorter and based on numbers. which makes it even easier to crack.
- Pattern: Many phones use this method: you set a specific pattern and use it to unlock your phone when you need it.
- Security Questions – This is mostly used as an additional form of authentication (2FA) and often asks personal questions.
Something you have (inheritance factor)
1.Email: Once logged in, an account can send a unique code to your email address. Security comes from the Guesses that only you should have access to the email associated with the account.
2.SMS: Some accounts will send you a code to enter as an additional form of authentication, assuming that only you can see the SMS.
3.Device Prompt: Similar to SMS, but a signal will be sent to your specific device. Once you acknowledge the prompt, you are authenticated.
4.App Authenticator – Works the same as the device prompt, but requires a separate app, such as Authy or Google Authenticator. This is also designed to work offline as well.
5.Security Key – This is a hardware item that, when set up with your account, acts as an additional form of authentication. Each security key is unique, so there is no way for someone to buy a security key and gain access to your accounts.
Something you are (biometric factor)
Biometric authentication is a relatively new method of authentication and has become more acceptable to end users and businesses in recent years.
They all work the same way: a device or account takes your biometric information and presents it whenever you need to access an account.
Biometric methods include:’
- Face recognition
- Fingerprint scanning
- Iris scanning
There are others such as DNA, gait, and smell, but they are not exploit as often as the former.
How Does Two Factor Authentication Work?
This is increasingly use and acted by most businesses. which means you can set 2FA policies and/or requirements for accounts such as Gmail, Microsoft Office, etc..
Social media accounts, banks, email clients, banking payment apps allow you to enable 2FA or MFA. However, depending on their supporting capabilities you may have 2FA SMS, 2FA identificatory. Moreover other forms of 2FA. , which offer different forms of security.
Here’s what you can generally expect after enabling 2FA.
- Get to the point of login through your app or website.
- Enter your password.
- You will be prompt to enter the additional identification factor. This can be a PIN send to your email address or phone via text message, or you can check your authenticator app.
- Enter the code in.
- You’re in the account!
From the user’s side, most forms of 2FA feel like entering two different passwords – you just need to make sure you have access to their phone or email. For more complicated forms of 2FA, you’ll need a separate app (or device), but you’ll soon get used to it.
Is SMS Two Factor Authentication Secure?
Despite the effectiveness of two-factor authentication, it is not without risks. Traditionally, the more layers of authentication (which is the case with MFA), the more secure your account. But different forms of 2FA are more secure than others.
SMS Two Factor Authentication is one of the riskiest forms of this because SMS messages can be intercepted and SMS comes with its own inherent risks. Thus it’s better than no 2FA, but device prompt, email codes, and authenticator apps are more secure.
Although SMS 2FA is risky. It is much riskier to not have any form of 2FA enabled. Therefore we always recommend considering SMS 2FA rather than not having 2FA.
How Do Security Tokens Help With Two Factor AUTH
Security keys are the most secure form of two-factor authentication and are unique. As they are hardware-based security. This is a physical tool that you must carry to log in to specific accounts.
This makes them a little harder to use, as there’s a chance you’ll lose them, but the security trade-off is huge. After you configure an account with a security token, only that security token identifies an account. There is no other method and malicious actors cannot reproduce it.
Additionally, it requires more maintenance and may not be compatible with all the accounts you want to protect. This is can also be more difficult to get all of your employees to adopt this more complex form of security.
This should not pass over as an essential component of your cybersecurity arsenal. It is extremely effective and is already used by a number of different companies and accounts.
As 2FA becomes more widely adopted. It continues to grow, and companies should take advantage of any new methods if they are more widely supported and employees are likely to adopt them.
Employees are also becoming more accustomed to using 2FA. So you’re likely to encounter less resistance, making it easier to implement across your organization. It is worth it and should be a priority.
For more ways to protect your organization and your data, check out the Varonis Data Security Platform.