For the online security, Two Factor Authentication is the most widely used security technique in the present scenario where hacking incidents are on the rise. Most of the end users worldwide use only a single protection layer; the password, for preventing their online accounts from getting compromised by intruders. But, this single layer is not so secure, as it can be easily breached using brute force or several other methods the attackers use. With 1FA becoming increasingly unreliable as a security measure, due to this reason Two Factor Authentication is rapidly gaining importance for logging into the online accounts.
Some statistics determining password is a weak link
Cybersecurity Ventures report says, “more than 3 billion passwords were stolen in the year 2016. It comes to 8.2 million passwords stolen every day and nearly 95 passwords stolen per second”.
StopTheHacker says, “Hackers take only 10 minutes to compromise a lowercase password that is six characters long. An addition of two extra letters with uppercase letters and number combination takes 3 years”. This shows that more letters (lowercase & uppercase, numbers and special characters) you use in a password, more years the hackers require to compromise it.
A recent report says 80% of all businesses suffered from some sort of computer hack over the past 1-2 years.
After taking these statistics into consideration, it seems password is the only weak link that results in the online accounts compromise. Strengthening password by adding an extra protection layer is the key to a better digital security. With Two Factor Authentication mechanism, you need not worry about the password security. It is because a hacker will not be benefitted even if he knows your primary login credentials; username and password combination.
What exactly this mechanism is?
Two Factor Authentication, abbreviated as 2FA, is a security mechanism in which the end users are required to provide two varied factors for proving their identity while accessing an online service. These authentication factors are in the form – password and verification code. The verification code, being a second authentication factor, is sent to the registered physical device the user is in possession with. This code expires within a few seconds, and the user will receive a different code after every login attempt. 2FA is also called Two Step Verification process.
How this mechanism works?
Two Factor Authentication is a highly secure way of proving your identity over the Internet. We use this authentication mechanism in our daily life. The most common examples include withdrawing cash through ATM (offline mode) and paying with a credit/debit card (online mode). In both these modes you require not only your card, but also a secret PIN to prove your identity and complete the transaction successfully. If unluckily any other person steals your card, then you should not get tensed because your card having with someone else is not the only requirement for carrying out a successful transaction. In fact, he must know your secret PIN as well.
The same case applies to the online accounts login procedure. If your password goes in the hands of an attacker, then logging in to the account won’t be possible, as he needs a second factor; verification code, for authentication. For getting this code, he requires access to your physical device at the same time. While being a bit of a hassle, Two Factor Authentication mechanism enhances security level by asking for an additional authentication factor, thus making it an extremely complicated task for a hacker to access your online account.
Why and where you should use this mechanism?
The foremost purpose of Two Factor Authentication method is to prevent prying eyes from all sorts of unauthorized access without compromising the security level. Imagine the situation if anyone hacks your password, then he can easily have access to your online accounts, sensitive data, alternative email addresses, banking information, etc. But if you have Two Factor Authentication in place, then hacking the password is useless for a hacker, as he won’t be allowed to access your data and information.
Two Factor Authentication is used for the security of –
- Banking and Finance
- Mailing accounts
- Social media accounts
- Any type of cloud storage service
- Online payment and shopping accounts
Various types of authentication factors
- Knowledge factors (something you know)
- Possession factors (something you have)
- Inherence factors (something you are)
- Time and Location factors – geolocation
Turning on Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the user’s choice, but as per a stat, 86% of people globally who use 2FA feel their online accounts and data are more secure.
Best practices for the password security
- Create unique passwords for all your online accounts. To secure yourself, use a password manager or Single sign-on where possible.
- Keep changing the passwords at regular time interval. Use of Two Factor Authentication mechanism allows to compensate for lack of regular password changes.
- Using a common system weakens the password security. However, in the context of security, a reasonably complex system serves better than reusing a single password.
- Choose a strong password using special characters, symbols, letters both uppercase and lowercase. Beware of dictionary attacks and don’t use the things that can be easily guessed by the attackers.
- It’s complex to prevent the chain reaction. This attack works regardless of how complex your password is. Enabling a secure Two Factor Authentication method for all the accounts that support it, the hacker won’t be able to reset your password or even log in to account with the password he knows.
With Two-Factor Authentication security method, even if your password is not so strong, your account is highly safe & secure against all sorts of breaches, as a hacker needs to prove his identity using a second factor along with the password.