2FA (or two-factor authentication) has become a popular security technique in recent years, to the point where some of the world’s largest firms deploy it regularly. Twitter, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon have all dabbled in 2FA at one point – but what is this security process, and why should your business have it?
What is 2FA?
2FA essentially adds an extra step to your traditional log-in process. When you login to a website, you usually enter your username and password and are taken straight to your customer portal – simple, straightforward and mostly effective. Your password is a single point of authentication.
But by adding a second factor, you can supposedly make accounts more secure. There are many ways you can accomplish this – Google, for example, requires the input of an authenticator code generated by the smartphone or tablet device of the registered user. Twitter has used SMS messages to deliver passwords and other essential login data to users, adding that extra step of security that can deter hackers and prevent cybercrime.
The history of 2FA
Two-factor authentication is no new development – you’ve probably used this method if you’ve ever been asked to confirm your postcode as part of a credit card transaction. The first point of authentication is the card, the second point is the postcode.
How much will 2FA protect me?
2FA definitely comes with a multitude of benefits and gives your users peace of mind that their accounts are more secure. But, like many security features nowadays, it’s not bulletproof. Ironically, one of the most high-profile circumstances where a two-factor system was breached happened to a security company, RSA, back in 2011. The firm revealed that its authentication tokens had been hacked. Many experts have since stated that, yes, 2FA can mitigate a lot of problems with hackers or malicious attackers – but it can also be the root of many attacks.
The future of 2FA
So what does the future hold for this security feature? As technology develops, so too will security – but so too will hackers. Increased adoption across the board will undoubtedly contribute to making 2FA a more viable and safe option. The more firms that take up this kind of approach, the more opportunities there will be to enhance and refine it.
Usability has also proved a problem – but again, as more companies choose to offer this method of protection, there will be plenty more chances for the user-friendliness to be enhanced.