Two-Factor Authentication for LINUX SSH

Before learning the two-factor authentication for Linux SSH, let’s have a small overview of Linux. Linux servers are one of the widest and most popular servers used by the organizations across the world. They constitute about 67% of all the public facing servers. They are one of the best and most efficient servers that can carry out the large volumes of web processes and transactions at a very low downtime.

Linux servers are highly reliable and scalable. They use SSH protocol to ensure secure login or access to remote servers. However, SSH involves the usage of the password, and a solely password-based authentication invites security threats and breaches. Passwords these days are no longer secure, for they can be hacked, cracked, or stolen using multiple methods.

Since Linux servers process large amounts of data that is mostly confidential, e.g. financial data, they are a large and favourable target to hackers and attackers. Protecting SSH logins merely with passwords may put your or an organization’s data at risk.

FairWare Ransomware targeting LINUX computers
FairWare Ransomware targeting LINUX computers

Click SSH security to read and learn more about the Linux SSH.

Why Two-Factor Authentication for LINUX SSH?

SSH or Secure Shell is a protocol that enables a user to log-in and access remotely located systems & servers securely, over an unsecured network. SSH itself not only encrypts the remote sessions but also delivers better authentication using cryptographic keys- a public key and private key.

As such, the combination of password and the cryptographic keys may seem to be a viable and stronger authentication option but it’s not, and the reason could be any of the following:

  • Cryptographic key (private key) may not be password protected and could be easily stolen.
  • Use of a simple password by the user in encrypting & protecting the private key.
  • System or device where the user has saved or stored the private key may be vulnerable to theft.

As discussed above, passwords are no longer effective to keep your servers protected from intrusion or other types of different security breaches. In addition, the introduction of concepts like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) have brought more risk to the Linux servers by granting privilege to employees in accessing organization’s network, server and data using their personal devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones, which may be used as a gateway by attackers because of their comparably lower security levels in comparison to a server.

Two-Factor Authentication: Improving LINUX SSH security

Adopting and implementing two-factor authentication in Linux SSH enforces the server to double-check the authenticity of a user. With 2FA, user’s identity is verified and validated, using “what the user knows” and “what the user has”.

Two Factor Authentication for LINUX SSH
Two Factor Authentication for LINUX SSH

What does a user knows, is username and password.

What a user may have, is security token/code.

2FA places token-based authentication as a secure doorway between a user and the protected server. Anyone can knock on it but only the authorized user can open this door with a secret code.

Is it beneficial to secure all servers using 2FA?

Implementing 2FA protection has always proven to be beneficial irrespective of individual or organizational needs. 2FA may be implemented across all servers present within an organization, but that may create complexity in managing, accessing, and using those servers.

It is pertinent to mention that most servers are already protected and secured by the different types of versatile network security tools, such as firewalls and VPNs. However, all these network security methods may avoid and prevent intrusion only within the organization’s network boundaries.

Public-facing servers (usually very few) can be accessed and explored by any user remotely, over a maybe unsecured network, using SSH outside the organization’s secured network. As such these public-facing servers are most prone to intrusion & data-theft and require utmost protection. Thus, implementation of 2FA may be restricted to public facing servers only.

In conclusion, it may be stated that servers are meant for storing and executing large amount of business & organizational data. Therefore, expecting fullest protection of servers merely with a password is not less than a fool’s paradise. Two-factor authentication is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to ensure guaranteed and multi-layered protection to Linux servers.

7 Reasons Why Banking and Finance Need 2FA Solution

For banks and finance organizations like Trading Houses, Credit Card Providers, Investment Funds, etc., protecting the sensitive data and money of the customers is of the utmost importance. A security survey report reveals that in the year 2015, there were nearly 2 Million attempts to steal customer’s money via online access to bank accounts.

There are several links that make it quite easier for the hackers or attackers to get into customers’ bank accounts online and steal money. But, one of the weakest links that simplifies this task is compromising password-alone verification, also known as One Factor Authentication. Hence, banking and finance need 2FA solution for better security of customers’ bank accounts and data.


Stats based on this powerful solution

80% of security breaches occurring over the Internet can be easily prevented with 2FA security solution.

Around 65% of people use a single password for multiple websites and accounts, so if your login credentials get stolen, you are leaving the doors wide open for the hackers to hack all your sensitive data and accounts.


What 2FA solution is, and how it stops breaches?

2FA, also known as Two Factor Authentication and Two Step Verification, is a security method that requires two different factors for verifying a user. It is more than just password-only authentication and uses a verification code; the second factor, to check whether the user is authentic or not.
The two factors are in the form of –


“Something you know (the knowledge factors) – username, password, PIN, or the answer to a security question.

Something you have (the possession factors) – any physical device to receive the verification code.

Something you are (the inherence factors) – biometric characteristics like iris, retina, face scan, voice recognition, fingerprint.”


The verification code is sent to the registered physical device of the user immediately after entering the correct password. This code is valid only for a few seconds. If an intruder steals your primary set of login credentials, i.e. username and password, then he won’t be able to gain access. It is because the second factor – verification code is required to complete the login process successfully. In this way 2FA security solution prevents breaches.


The Importance of a Better Security

As security breaches continue to increase over time, organizations of different types & sizes are being forced to safeguard against these threats. And when it comes to security, the banks and finance organizations have always been on the cutting edge. With evolving technology, hackers have become more sophisticated and it’s now easier for them to figure out the passwords, identify vulnerabilities in servers and get into someone’s bank account. The primary focus of banks and the financial services organizations must be to prevent all sorts of breaches by implementing better security on client account information.

A recent survey of 200+ corporate directors reveals that more than 40% of respondents feel like CEOs should face the brunch of breach-related backlash. Financial services organizations and banks need to put securing client information and protecting accounts on the top priority. The best approach is to implement Two Factor Authentication.


Reasons why banking and finance need to enable 2FA


Check out the 7 most important reason why banking and finance need 2FA solution:

  1. Customer Satisfaction and Peace of Mind

If the banks and finance organizations become victim of the cyberattacks due to the lack of proper security measures, then it will result in a negative impact on the customers. For better customer satisfaction and peace of mind, safeguarding client’s banking information against threats must be the primary focus of these organizations. With 2FA solution, account information gets protected from all attacks.

  1. Increased Cyberattacks

Taking the rate of frequently occurring cyberattacks into consideration, one thing is clear that the frequency and intensity of these attacks will increase in the future alarmingly. So, the banks and finance organizations need to be prepared for these future security threats. According to a study, security breaches rose by 48 percent in the year 2015 to 42.8 million. That’s the equivalent of 117,339 attacks per day. Since 2009, the growth rate of detected security breaches annually has grown a whopping 66% year over year. It reflects that survival of banks and financial services organizations without implementing 2FA solution is not possible in the future.

  1. Liability Issues

If any sort of cyberattack ever happens in your organization, then at that time you may face serious liability issues. The lack of adequate safeguards or security solution in place can result in severe damage. If proper security solution like 2FA – Two Factor authentication is enabled, then you will be able to confidently claim that you have put every possible effort from your end to protect sensitive client information.

  1. Secure, Cost-effective

Another important reason for banks and financial services organizations to enable 2FA solution is that it’s highly secure as well as cost-effective. By choosing the right Two Factor Authentication solution provider, you will be able to continue your business operations with high security level and no fear of getting compromised.

  1. Mitigates the Password Problem

Changing the passwords at frequent time interval is a good security practice. But, most of the customers feel discomfort in this practice, as after every few days they need to create and remember the new password. For simplifying this task, the customers either use weak passwords or write down on sticky notes. 2FA solution mitigates the password problem. It is because if someone else tries to reset your password, then he needs access to your physical device as well for getting the second factor, i.e. verification code, and accomplishing this task successfully.

  1. Dual Checks Identity

Weak or stolen user credentials are used in 95% of all web app attacks. Focusing on customer account security, organizations (banks and finance) are recommended using PCI-compliant ecommerce system. PCI compliance system requires 2FA for checking identity and verifying a customer. 2FA solution not only dual checks identity, but also restricts an unauthorised user even if he knows your password.

  1. Alerts you in case of any breach

With 2FA activated on your account, you will be alerted with a security code in case of any breach. This code warns that someone else has stolen your account password. Therefore, banking and finance need 2FA solution in place for better customer account security all the time.

The demand of security is increasing at a rapid pace and it does not seem possible without Two Factor Authentication. So, banks and financial services organizations are required to implement 2FA security solution for ensuring trustworthiness.

Looking For 2FA Solution for unix ssh security