It’s a fact: passwords alone are no longer enough to protect you from malicious cyberattacks. With cybercriminals more determined than ever, cracking your perfect password may not be as unrealistic as you think.

Luckily, the use of Two Factor Authentication, or 2FA, has been rising in popularity as a way to protect you and your accounts from data breaches.

What is 2FA

Two Factor Authentication (also known as Multifactor Authentication) is a security system that requires two forms of identification, known as factors, in order to access something. This form of authentication provides a second layer of protection personalized to each user. You can think of a normal password as a key. If someone steals your key, they now have access to whatever that key may open. Two Factor Authentication provides another layer on top of that key.

The Factor in Two-Factor

A Factor is a piece of evidence that a user will provide for authentication. There are several different types of factors:

Knowledge – Something that the account holder knows, like an answer to a security question or a PIN number.

Possession – Something physical the owner holds that can receive additional credentials, like a phone app or physical security token.

Inheritance - A factor attributed to the owner, typically biometric such as a fingerprint or a retina scan

How does 2FA work?

Through a multi-layered security process, Two Factor Authentication provides a simple way to secure your data. An example of 2FA at work would be as follows:

  1. User logs into a website or service with their username and password
  2. This information is confirmed. If their password is correct, they move to the next factor.
  3. Authentication servers send a unique code to the user’s second-factor device. In many cases, this is a one-time code sent to a mobile device or email address.
  4. The user approves the additional authentication from their second-factor device.

What types of 2FA Exist?

SMS text or Voice Message – This kind of 2FA interacts with users’ personal phones and is the most popular kind of 2FA. An example of this would be when a website asks if a user would like a text or phone call to receive a unique one-time password. This password is then used as the second verification factor for account access.

Authentication Application – This kind of 2FA is downloaded by the user and can be used in conjunction with any website or application that it supports. An example of this would be Google Authenticator and is another widely used form of 2FA.

Push Notifications – This kind of 2FA is provided by websites and applications, sending a push notification to your mobile device when a login notification is taking place. This can then be approved or denied by a single touch.

2FA is a vital tool for your digital security. Gone are the days of relying on a single password for your protection. It is vital to never rely on just a single method of security. Comprehensive protection is imperative to a safe digital environment, and 2FA is one more tool to help keep you safe.

As always, if you have any questions regarding Two-Factor Authentication or any other topic covered by our articles, please do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Drivetech!