Are you using Two-Factor Authentication for your business?
If you are serious about cyber security and protecting your users, simply enabling passwords is no longer secure enough. Read on to find out why two-factor authentication (2FA) is important and why use SMS to enable it.
Limitations of Passwords: Why Enable 2FA
Online security has never been more important than it is today. With so many transactions being performed online, hackers and scammers are continually searching for systems with vulnerabilities to exploit.
These cyber criminals bombard all kinds of businesses continuously with malware attempts and phishing (or smishing) scams. Some of the most common strategies are to steal user credentials, steal other sensitive information or access and control finances. That’s why having two-factor authentication is so important.
Passwords have, for many years, been the key to our digital world – and they remain a critical security measure for online accounts. They are, however, are prone to various security issues:
- Passwords can be stolen via malware, data breaches, and phishing attacks.
- Short, simple, or predictable passwords are weak and can quickly be cracked with hacking tools.
- Sophisticated cybercriminals can test billions of passwords per second.
- 90% of passwords can be cracked within six hours.
- Multiple accounts may be accessed with the same password – in fact, more than 59% of people use the same password for all of their logins.
Passwords alone are no longer enough.
Two Factor Authentication offers a simple, effective way to add another layer of security to important accounts and limit their vulnerabilities. It should be implemented across accounts, including email, system logins, online banking, and more. 2FA SMS is a convenient, affordable option for this.
Benefits of Enabling 2FA for Your Business
There are numerous benefits for implementing 2FA text messaging for your business:
- reduce unauthorised access
- protect against external cyber-attacks
- reduce financial theft
- reduce data breach
- minimise the risk of compromised passwords
- better organisation-wide account security
- greater consumer trust
- peace of mind for businesses and consumers
What is 2-Factor Authentication?
2FA is sometimes called Two-Step Verification (2SV) and is a type of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). It is a secondary authentication method that’s enabled on the user’s account alongside the password.
There are 3 types of authentication factors, where using a combination of factors is the strongest way to protect identities.
1. Knowledge Authentication Factor
This is something that the user knows; with passwords being one of the most common knowledge factors. Other examples include credit card PINs or security questions (eg. mother’s maiden name, the first street you lived on). These security questions may not be the most effective, as this information may be known by many people.
2. Inherent Authentication Factor
This is something that is inherently part of the user, often biometric methods. This includes fingerprints, facial recognition and voice.
3. Possession Authentication Factor
This is an item that the user owns; it might be an authentication token or it might be their mobile handset. For verification of mobile phone possession, there are two popular options; using an authenticator application or SMS 2FA.
Why Use Text Messages for 2FA
2FA SMS is a cost-efficient, effective deterrent to criminals and perfectly suits a vast array of businesses. It relies on mobile reception and the presence of the user’s phone nearby. Since the majority of people have their phone within arm’s reach at all times, using SMS for 2FA makes sense. Unlike using an authenticator application, SMS requires no 3rd party installation or data connection. This means SMS is more user friendly and accessible to more users.
Text messaging for Two Factor Authentication is far superior to using other channels such as email. Email verification, for example, is among the weakest forms of 2FA due to potential deliverability issues, shared inboxes, and the vulnerability of email to hackers. Furthermore, mobile delivery rates are near perfect and open rates on SMS exceed 98%.
How Does 2FA SMS Work?
Where online users must remember and enter their own (hopefully unique!) password, SMS authentication adds another critical layer of security to the login or payment process. 2FA SMS enables users to verify their identity using a numerical code or one-time password (OTP) that’s sent to their mobile phone via text message. This PIN or code acts as an additional verification method so that users can access a network, application, or system for everything from making payments to posting content online.
After a user has signed in to a website or app, they promptly receive a text message that contains an SMS authentication code. This is a one-time, random code and its use is time-sensitive – most will expire within 5 minutes to an hour. The code must be entered into the website or app to complete the login or payment process and gain access.
To breach SMS 2FA, the hacker would need to not only guess or otherwise access user passwords; they’d also need to compromise the phone carrier to access and retrieve the randomly generated 2FA SMS codes. They’d also need access to the user’s phone or device itself – which is incredibly unlikely. This is an effective deterrent for the vast majority of criminals.
Benefits of Using SMS for 2FA
Passwords used alone are an inherently weak form of security. Most people recycle the same passwords across accounts, and it’s very common for them to be forgotten. Moreover, storing them unwisely (written on a sticky note, kept in a wallet, etc) makes them easier to steal.
The sheer volume of passwords most of us now need to remember is overwhelming. 2FA text messaging codes remove much of the hassle with this – making it simpler for users to verify their identity.
Show your customers and clients that your commitment to their security online is unwavering. This fosters trust and loyalty.
Many, many businesses use SMS 2FA, including but not limited to:
- Internet-based businesses – e.g. Google, Gmail, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp
- Financial Institutions – banks, building societies, credit unions, etc.
- E-Commerce businesses
- Healthcare – portals for accessing healthcare records, referrals, reports, etc.
- Government Agencies
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