The username and password combination is the primary requirement for logging in to an online account without any hassle. If you are an authentic end user, and unfortunately someone else manages to know your secret password, then no difference is left between you and him, as he can easily gain access to your valuable online account. This is the major problem associated with using just one factor i.e. password-only verification in the login procedure. Therefore, it is better for all the authentic end users globally to use more than one authentication factor to ensure security of their online accounts, even if the secret passwords get compromised. With Two Factor Authentication security method, this (hacking) issue gets resolved easily, and your online accounts won’t get compromised, even if others know your secret passwords. This feature of Two Factor Authentication makes it an effective security method.
An overview of this security method, and its working
Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA or Two Step Verification, is one of the most important and proven ways that helps to protect your digital assets (online accounts, data and information) in today’s rapidly increasing malicious activities over the internet. In brief, 2FA security method requires two factors; unique verification code or OTP (One Time Passcode) and a secret password, in the login procedure to verify identity of the user. The authentic end user receives unique verification code on his registered mobile device immediately after entering the valid username and password combination, and is valid only for a few seconds.
If you ever receive unique verification code on your mobile device, even if you have not entered the username and password combination of your online account, then it clearly reflects that someone else has guessed your secret password. In fact, Two Factor Authentication security method alerts or notifies you that your secret password has gone in the wrong hands. But, you don’t need to worry as the password alone is not enough to gain access to your online account, he (unauthorized user) needs OTP to complete the login procedure successfully.
Different types of authentication factors are as follows:
The knowledge factors (something you know) – username, password, PIN, a security question.
The possession factors (something you have) – a credit or debit card, mobile device, a security token.
The inherence factors (something you are) – iris, retina, face scan, voice recognition, fingerprint, and other biometric characteristics of the user.
2FA requires any two out of the above-listed possible three authentication factors to check whether the user is authentic or not. You already use Two Factor Authentication security method in your daily life, as when you use your credit or debit card at an ATM or POS (Point of Sale) terminal: first you swipe your card (something you have), then you enter your 4-digit secret PIN (something you know) or provide a biometric verification (something you are). Due to the use of two factors, 2FA is considered a highly effective security method.