2-factor authentication (SMS, physical token, Google Authenticator, Authy...)

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2-factor authentication is considered to be a good way of enhancing online account security. Rather than relying solely on a password, there are different 2FA methods which sort of increase an extra layer of security in an attempt to reduce problems such as hacking, cybercrime and data breaches.

Simply put, a user will have a username and password, but upon entering these one will not immediately gain access to his or her account, as an additional piece of information will be needed. Some of the most common types of 2-factor authentication include:

  • SMS – you receive a one-time code by means of an SMS on your cellphone.

  • Hardware tokens – these are physical tokens, like a key fob, which will generate a numeric code which will last for a short period of time. The user will need to enter this code in order to log in. This is a very good form of 2FA, but one would need to have the device at hand in order to log in and this may not always be feasible. Also, the distribution of such devices can be quite costly.

  • Software – there are software programs such as Google Authenticator, which are also becoming popular forms of 2-factor authentication. Google Authenticator is a renowned software token which carries out two-step verification by using algorithms so as to authenticate users of mobile apps by Google. Another popular 2FA app is Authy, which is simple to set up, and has a secure cloud backup.

  • There are also more advanced forms of 2FA which include fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, or retina scanning so as to verify a user’s identity without the least bit of doubt.

2-factor authentication certainly increases peace of mind thanks to better security. It is however important for a business to choose a method which is feasible and cost effective.

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