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What is 2FA Authentication and Why Use it?

Cyberattacks against people, organizations, and government are increasing at rates never before seen. Unfortunately, this isn’t especially surprising. Afterall, almost all modern transactions can be carried out on our devices: from banking, to grocery shopping, dinner reservations, signing documents, and even controlling the heat in our homes.

The question is, what can we do about it?

In the never-ending arms race against cybercriminals, IT professionals deploy a wide range of weapons to defend data and ward off hacks. 2FA Authentication , otherwise known as “2-Factor Authentication,” continues to be among the most important tools available. So what is 2FA login , and why is it effective?

What is 2FA Authentication?

There are four common types of authentication factors. They are:

  • Something you have: Such as a bank card, a key, etc.
  • Something you know: Such as a password, PIN #, etc.
  • Something you are: Such as a biometric, like your voice, an eye-scan, or fingerprint.
  • Somewhere you are: Such as a GPS signal to identify your location, or a connection to a specific network.

Usually, a username and password is the first step in any 2FA. By itself, this step is considered a single-step authentication. A 2FA system asks for additional information, like a personal identification pin, phone number, ATM card number, or any of the other factors listed above. In theory, a lack of access to the second factor should stop a cybercriminal from being able to access your account or information.

Why is 2fa Authentication Important?

2-factor authentication is a key part of any zero trust security model. Passwords can be very weak, as evidenced by the fact that 23 million people still use “123456” as their password. Likewise, 78% of Gen Z uses the same passwords across various applications. The extra step added in 2FA creates a conundrum for the hacker, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the cybercrime.

Common examples of 2FA Authentication

Some types of 2FA are very straightforward. Others are more complicated but boast even higher success rates. A few of the of the most common types are:

Push authentications
Here, websites and applications send information directly to a device. The user is required to approve or deny access with a single touch. Users typically have the option to review the details before pushing OK, thereby approving access.

Software token (TOTP)
In this case, after an app is downloaded and installed, users are first asked to enter their new username and password. Then, they must enter a temporary passcode provided in the app itself. Usually, these codes are valid for less than a minute.

Voice/SMS/Email OTP
Here, a One-Time Passcode (OTP) is sent to users’ devices via SMS, call or email. The user must use the code in order to access the application.

Conclusion: What is 2FA Authentication and Why Use it?

Cybercriminals’ knowledge, tools, and skills become more advanced with each passing year, making it necessary for IT departments and individual users to remain vigilant, even as they are under increased levels of stress. In the ongoing arms race against cybercrime, requiring an extra step might be a bit of a nuisance, but you’ll sleep easier knowing that the information you must protect is much safer than it would otherwise be.

Topics : Articles, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Month, IT

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