What Is Two Factor Authentication

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A Two Factor Authentication (or 2FA) is a method of confirming user identity in which the user provides two means of identification.

A common example:

One way to be more secure with your Apple ID is to enable two-factor authentication.

This feature adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a verification code each time you sign in as well as when making changes such as password changes or adding new devices.

For example, if someone has access to your Apple ID and password but doesn’t have physical access to one of your trusted devices, he or she won’t be able to verify the change we’re asking for — like updating the payment information associated with your account — and will instead need help you via phone.

What Is Two Factor Authentication

So only people who have both your password and one of your trusted devices can access your account. […]

Two Factor Authentication pops confusingly when TFA is already enabled on the Apple ID you link Authy to.

It’s not a big deal, just know that if you see this and it’s not right and you check settings and everything looks okay then it might be that Two Factor Authentication is enabled on the Apple ID you’re trying to use with Authy.

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We think this adds more security but we’re still working out some quirks so please bear with us until we get this sorted out.

Definition Of Two Factor Authentication

In the simplest terms, two-factor authentication (usually shortened to 2FA) is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components.

It is a relatively new approach to information security and isn’t always used by every type of organization.

Two-factor authentication gained popularity in recent years as companies have realized their employees are prime targets for hackers seeking company data – with good reason – since it often contains sensitive customer, financial or employee information.

In addition, most organizations now recognize that they’re equally vulnerable to cyber attacks from outside sources, which seek ransomware or money from the business via extortion websites.

A high profile example was the 2016 attack on DynDNS which crippled popular online services such as Twitter, Netflix and PayPal for several hours.

Two-factor authentication is frequently confused with two-step verification, which uses the same method of second identity confirmation but requires only one additional piece of information to verify the user’s identity before granting access to an account or system.

Two-step

verification has also fallen out of favor in recent years and is expected to be replaced by two-factor because it limits employees’ abilities to work remotely while still increasing security.

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One approach gaining popularity involves using software tokens, which are frequently referred to as soft tokens.

This type of 2FA solution provides users with an app that stores authorization codes used when logging into company systems or accounts, rather than traditional push notifications or SMS texts sent to a mobile device .

The newly proposed standard known as U2F (universal 2nd factor) also enables users to securely log in without their smartphone.

One concern when deploying two-factor authentication is that it will be overly complicated and employees won’t embrace it, rendering any organization that uses the process vulnerable to security breaches and potentially damaging data theft.

This fear appears to have been unfounded, at least according to a report by Gemalto , which looked into the experiences of 100 global companies who had already implemented two-factor authentication programs.

What they found was that 90% of respondents said their employees’ acceptance rate exceeded expectations and 85 percent believe it increased security levels.

Another finding from the research was that remote access is where companies would see the greatest benefit from implementing two-factor authorization .

Forty percent of respondents said their employees log in to work systems outside the office at least once per day, which makes them prime targets for credential theft via phishing schemes.

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Moreover, 30% of companies said they don’t require 2FA authorization on any company system. Putting this into perspective, one high profile breach at a business resulted in hackers gaining access to an employee’s email account because it wasn’t protected by two-factor authentication.

Once inside that person’s inbox, the attacker discovered an attachment containing login credentials for another individual who worked within the organization .

Understand Pros and Cons

Two-factor or two-step verification? While there are pros and cons associated with both types of identity confirmation methods, one common complaint is that people forget their passwords so having another piece of information in addition to a password can be a hassle.

To that end, a new approach gaining in popularity is the use of biometric authentication with two-factor verification .

The fingerprint sensor technology used in smartphones can also be used to secure computer logins and limit access only to authorized users’ fingerprints.

In one example, employees at Capital One Financial Corp. were previously able to bypass or disable security features from their work computers with little difficulty.

Now though, when they place their fingers on the company’s fingerprint sensors located on their keyboards , all they see after logging into their system is a black screen which can’t be exited without inputting a valid fingerprint scan into the same device.

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In most cases businesses have no choice but to implement two-factor authentication as a matter of course as part of the overall security program because customer banks and financial institutions now require it for transactions .

If you’re looking to secure your computer network, there are several providers that offer solutions such as smart cards and USB tokens that could fill the bill.

However, these infrastructure changes can be expensive and time-consuming to implement, especially if they involve accessing remote networks over VPNs .

This hasn’t deterred companies from opting for two-factor authentication though because compliance is becoming increasingly commonplace.

While 2FA makes life more difficult for hackers who are fishing for data or trying to steal sensitive information by spoofing their way into an organization’s network , the real key to protecting company data isn’t necessarily in what measures are being taken but rather if employees are doing their part by following security protocols .

If users aren’t practicing good cyber hygiene, they’ll still be able to fall victim to spear phishing or other types of social engineering attacks, regardless of how strong the company’s security posture is.

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