Two Factor Authentication

Two Factor Authentication

Nowadays it feels that we need to put an extra hedge of protection around everything we have. Whether that is extra screens for our phone, a lengthy wifi password or a two factor authentication setting on our accounts. Recently, two factor authentication has emerged as an option for those who wish to protect their accounts outside of just a strong password. Two factor authentication or 2FA or multi-factor authentication is a method of extra verification outside of a password with extra security questions or other variables. This method is used to protect any and all accounts online from bank accounts, social media accounts, web pages, and many others. The three authentication mechanisms are knowledge, possession, and inheritance or something the person knows, something the person has, or something the person is. Previously to this method, accounts were only verified with one factor authentication such as a password or a phone number and from there, the person trying to log into the account is able to gain access. Thankfully with advances in technology, accounts and information are better protected with different factors and hedges that must be faced when trying to log in.

If the authentication connected to your cell phone has to do with something the user possesses, this could be quite inconvenient as the user has to carry something tangible with them at all times. This could be something such as a key card, a USB, or other physical item. The danger of loss and theft comes up which can bring on other worries as these items could fall into the wrong hands. Another inconvenience that is brought up with user possession is that the item could be used by the wrong person and not the actual owner of the account or other thing that one is trying to gain access to. This does act as a two factor authentication method but it is a more open approach to security that comes with risks.

One perk and upside to a two factor authentication in place on your accounts is that you can utilize your cell phone to help you with this verification. Some ways that your cell phone can be used to verify your account is that the account you are trying to gain access to will send a push-based authentication, QR code based authentication, one-time password authentication (such as a code sent through text that is good for one hour), and SMS-based verification. The convenience of using your cell phone makes this authentication very easy and fast, but the threat of hacking still lingers as your cell phone is always vulnerable to outside threats. Unless your phone number or cellular account is protected by other factors, others can easily gain access to the authentication that has been sent to your phone. The most vulnerable would be SMS-based verification as anyone can see your texts or the code could be sent to the wrong person with wrong intentions with access to your account with this verification. With cell phones being used as a part in two factor authentication, this means that users no longer have to carry a physical object like a USB and the only thing that they have to worry about is having their cell phone in their pocket. The device itself can be locked with a pin or password giving even more protection to private accounts and information. In 2018 SMS became the most broadly user method for authentication or accounts as Apple and Google started using two step authentication in 2016 and 2017 with push notifications.

Some benefits and advantages to using a two factor authentication system for your accounts is the obvious, improved security. Your accounts and information will be more secure as hackers or other unwanted users will have a harder time getting into your account and viewing any information that is yours. After typing in the password for an account you will be prompted to answer another security question or fill in another pin. The more factors that you have in place, the more secure your account will be against hackers. Of course you will not have the stress of carrying around a physical object besides your cell phone which is already an essential these days. Generated passwords and passcodes that are given to you as a part of a two factor authentication system are generated constantly rather than your standing password that is the same from when you created the account.

With positive benefits and advantages come negative aspects and disadvantages. The threat of hackers stands as your cell phone and cell phone number are extremely vulnerable to outside parties. SIM swapping attacks your cell phone directly meaning that any two step authentication done with your cell phone is delivered right to the hands of the hackers. Even though carrying a cell phone is more convenient than carrying other physical objects for authentication the same factors are brought up such as theft, loss, damage, and the worst, a dead battery. Any SMS-based verification can always be interrupted or sent to the wrong phone number leaving your information open to someone else with the right tools to get into the account. Fees can be added to your cell phone bill with SMS use for verification and authentication which can quickly add up and reflect at the end of each month. Another great way to protect ourselves and our information is to utilize two factor and multi factor authentication methods. And what better way to utilize this method than with our cell phones. Because we carry our cell phones everywhere we go, we can have the authentication system right in our back pockets making it easy and convenient to protect our accounts. This will ensure that your information is staying where you want it and being viewed by who you want it to be. This gives you peace of mind too knowing that your information is extra secure and unable to be accessed by the wrong people. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of multi factor authentication when signing into your accounts next time and determine how secure it is without it.