What is two-factor authentication and why do you need it?

What is two-factor authentication and why do you need it?

“Please enter your username and password.”


Whether you’re logging onto your computer, joining your favorite forum, checking your bank statement or doing some online shopping, you’ll likely encounter this phrase. Everything requires a username and password, and as the provider of this information, you are left with two choices: maintain a veritable black book of detailed information that outlines all of your different usernames and passwords for each site you visit, or use the same username and password for everything.


Not surprisingly, most people choose the latter.


However, while that single username and password become as memorable as your phone number or address, using this same information across multiple sites also makes it easier to hack. In many cases our passwords are derived from versions of our name, our address, or our favorite sports team. Once hackers are able to discover the password, they now have access to your entire network.


For companies, this truism is especially concerning, as many people carry these same tried-and-true username/password combinations to their work environment, placing work files in jeopardy. According to haveibeenpwned.com, more than 2.5 billion accounts have been compromised in such a fashion. No company is safe, as many of these cyberattacks are even able to strike at some of the world’s largest tech-savvy firms, like LinkedIn, Adobe and Dropbox.


Protecting your business


Requiring all employees to use a unique password is an effective, logical first step, but it’s hardly controllable. Instead, your company can further reinforce its system security by upgrading to two-factor authentication.


Just as the name implies, two-factor authentication adds a second layer of authentication requirements beyond the initial password in order to ensure proper identity and improve your company’s security.


With two-factor authentication, employees log in by entering the conventional username and password information, but this is only the first step. Once the proper information has been entered, the employee is then transferred to a second stage where they must enter a verification code that arrives from another source, like an accompanying app, outside the existing system. This adds another level of security, making accounts harder to hack and protecting your company from joining the list of compromised organizations.


Types of two-factor authentication systems


Two-factor authentication security choices come in a wide array of options, including:


* Single-use password tokens are a low-cost, one-use option that eliminates any opportunity of developing a pattern for hackers to uncover.


* Smart card tokens work with driverless devices and generate their numbers randomly, providing you with next-level security and minimal IT dependence.


* Single-use password applications offer the same one-time security of the tokens, but the information is generated from an adjoining app that can be installed in the system.


Any of these options can dramatically improve the security of your network. You can learn more about your options for installing a two-factor authentication system for your business by contacting us today.