Tips for Using Two Factor Authentication Method

The problem associated with password-based logins

With increase in the number of malicious attacks like brute force, phishing, dictionary attacks, keystroke logging, etc., over the Internet, using just a single authentication factor; the password, is not something you can rely on to get better protection against these kinds of attacks. You need to approach something advanced; i.e. more than just password-only verification, for improved security level. In general, frequent hacking attacks are one of the major problems associated with password-based logins.

Solution to this problem

One secure, proven and advanced solution to the problems arising due to password-alone verification is Two Factor Authentication (2FA). This method resolves all security-related issues effectively and provides an additional layer of security to the digital assets.

Statistics that reflect 2FA market growth

As per the latest analysis, Two Factor Authentication market is estimated to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 24% by the year 2021. On the other hand, MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) market worldwide is expected to grow at 21 percent CAGR by 2019. Two Factor Authentication covers nearly 90 percent of all MFA models that include Two, Three, Four and Five Factor Authentication. Around 56% of organizations including small, medium and large-scale are using Two Factor Authentication.

3FA is used in private access areas such as secret data access, travel & immigration and bank lockers, whereas its next levels, i.e. 4FA and 5FA, are restricted to government-based applications, R&D (Research and Development) and defence projects.

2FA overview

Two Factor Authentication (2FA), also referred to as Two Step Verification, is a secure way of logging in to the online accounts or other services over the Internet. 2FA makes the login process safe and secure against various types of the harmful external security threats. Being a two-step login process, Two Factor Authentication adds an additional security layer and requires two varied factors, i.e. password and verification code to verify or double check identity of the user.

In short, Two Factor Authentication is the process of using a second factor in the form of a verification code, which is send to the user’s registered physical device, along with the username and password combination.

The major benefit of 2FA process is that even if a hacker gets your account password, he won’t be able to login without having access to your registered physical device.

Possible authentication factors for identity verification

Knowledge factors – something you know (username and password)

Possession factors – something you have (physical device)

Inherence factors – something you are (biometric characteristics)

Time and Location factors

Two Factor Authentication, as its name suggests, combines any two out of the four authentication factors given above. This method especially uses knowledge, possession and inherence factors.

Tips for implementing Two Factor Authentication solution:

Below are some useful tips in this regard:

Make sure that it’s necessary

Adding Two Factor Authentication boosts digital assets security of enterprises and the end users. But, this security method requires additional costs and time and increases the complexity of system design and the login process. Therefore, enterprises and the end users must make sure that it’s necessary for them.

Choosing the right authentication type

2FA comes with different authentication methods like Physical Device Authentication, Knowledge-based Authentication and Biometric Authentication. All these methods have their own pros and cons. So, it would be better to choose the right authentication type before enabling this security solution.

Avoid Cookie-based Two Factor Authentication

Many 2FA service providers globally consider cookies as the second verification factor. But, this is not a good approach from the security perspectives. It is because cookies validate only the machine’s identity, not the user’s. Therefore, cookie-based Two Factor Authentication must be avoided for a better security.

Consider customized Two Factor Authentication system

Most of the businesses across the world don’t like to implement a ready-made Two Factor Authentication system. It is because they (businesses) have the fear that users will turn off this complex process (2FA), if they do not find it custom-made. The users want easy to use, faster and highly secure options while logging in to their account. Customization provides them what they are looking for and feel comfortable with. Therefore, the businesses must consider implementing customized Two Factor Authentication system for a better user experience.


All the above-listed tips must be focused for implementing Two Factor Authentication (2FA) or Two Step Verification solution to get unmatched security.



2FA Solution For Linux SSH Security

Top Reasons Why Linux Server Needs 2FA

Linux is a secure and an open source OS (Operating System). Jack Wallen, a technical writer cum security expert, predicts that the market share of Linux server will cross 5% by the end of year 2017. With this increased market share in the coming days, it is obvious that the security risks, hacking incidents and vulnerabilities on this secure platform will be on the rise as well.

As per an analysis by GFI, the network and security solutions provider, Linux was one of the top three most vulnerable operating systems of the year 2014. Total 119 vulnerabilities were reported, 24 of which were rated as high-severity, 74 and 21 were rated medium and low vulnerabilities respectively. This analysis is based on the data from the US NVD (National Vulnerability Database). Therefore, the enterprises which are having Linux servers must take the security seriously, follow a proactive approach, and need 2FA solution for completely reducing/minimizing any kind of vulnerability in the future.

A total of 7,038 new security vulnerabilities were added to the NVD in the year 2014, which reflects that on an average 19 vulnerabilities were reported per day. Nearly 80% were reported in third-party applications, 13% in operating systems, and 4% in hardware devices.

All these statistics are enough to show that implementation of an additional security layer on the Linux servers and other online services is must for protection against threats. One of the best and proven security solutions that every enterprise and the end user need to enable is 2FA.

Brief of this solution

2FA (Two Factor Authentication) is a method that adds an additional security layer to the password-alone verification approach of login an account. This method verifies identity of a admin or end user through two independent factors, namely password and verification code. Every authentic end user knows the password (first factor), and the verification code (second factor) is sent to registered physical device of the user. This code remains active for less than a minute, and strengthens authentication.

If unluckily an intruder manages to know your password from any source, he won’t be able to get the privileges or access rights that you have. It is because he needs an additional factor along with the password to gain the access completely. Due to the use of two varied steps in the login procedure, 2FA security solution is also known as Two Step Verification.

Factors used for user authentication

Something that the user knows (knowledge factors)

Something that the user has (possession factors)

Something that the user is (inherence factors)

Possible reasons why 2FA is must for Linux server

Server admin and the end user can’t avoid using 2FA security solution in present scenario. Below are the possible reasons to use this proven method:

Increased Linux Usage and Vulnerabilities

The market share of Linux is on the rise, so are the vulnerabilities level on this powerful operating system. A recent report based on market share data and usage statistics shows that Linux is used by 37 percent of all websites available over the Internet. For reducing increasing vulnerabilities on Linux server, Two Factor Authentication (2FA) has been proved to be the best solution. It is because 2FA method is more than just password-only verification.

Dual Checks Identity

Along with advancement in technology standards in the last few years, there has also been an increase in identity theft cases globally. For logging in to Linux server admin panel, a valid username and password combination is required by default. If this password goes in the wrong hands, then gaining admin rights becomes extremely easier for an unauthorised user. But with 2FA solution, identity theft seems a tedious task because it dual checks identity, i.e. an extra verification step is involved in the login process.

Constant Fraudulent Logins

When it comes to guessing Linux server password, the intruders use various password cracking techniques like dictionary attack, brute force attack, social engineering, rainbow table attack, phishing, etc. The number of fraudulent logins increase on the server once the intruders guess the right password. To prevent this type of logins from happening constantly, 2FA has emerged as a powerful solution. As per a survey by TeleSign, 8 in 10 people are worried about the online security and 7 in 10 no longer rely on just password-only verification. Hence, Linux server need 2FA for added security and protection against fraudulent logins or several other malicious activities.

Unauthentic Impersonating themselves as Authentic

This is one of the major security issues associated with login in to a Linux server using just password-alone authentication. This type of authentication mechanism requires only password, and facilitates both unauthentic and authentic users to gain the access completely. To distinguish between both these users, it is must to enable 2FA security solution on all the Linux servers. With Two Factor Authentication, it becomes a complicated task for an unauthorized user to impersonate himself as an authentic user. The reason for this strong authentication is the use of an additional factor along with the password. 

Usage statistics for 2FA

The result from a study by SecureAuth, an access control company, shows that 99% of IT departments believe 2FA is the best solution to protect an identity and its access. This company also states that 81% of all confirmed security breaches involve stolen yet valid credentials.

56% of organizations worldwide are using 2FA solution either across the organization or in certain areas.

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) usage statistics for Drupal websites. 5,499 Drupal sites currently report using this security solution for different module categories: Mobile, Security, User Access & Authentication.

Additional tips for strengthening Linux server security

Secure the BIOS (Basic Input/output System)

For better Linux server security, make sure that your system cannot be booted from external sources like CD, DVD, floppy, etc. It is also important that no one else have access to GRUB (GNU GRand Unified Bootloader).

Access Remote Computers with SSH

SSH (Secure Shell or Secure Socket Shell) is the best way to ensure communications between two computers remotely. By default, SSH uses TCP port 22, so you can increase the security by choosing a higher numbered port.

Enable SELinux

SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) is an essential security module which is designed to protect overall Linux server security.

Patch the Operating System

It is extremely important that the operating system and several other packages installed must be kept up to date as it is the core of the environment. Without a secure operating system, most of the Linux server strengthening tips will be much less effective.

Apart from enabling 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) solution, the system administrators are required to follow these additional tips for getting the next level Linux server security.

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