I want to start this article out by admitting that there are a lot of active threats out there these days. There are hackers--hacking collectives, actually--that’s whole purpose is to infiltrate businesses and steal data, money, and most often, the trust people have in their technology. One way to help keep your stuff secure is by relying on two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication (sometimes called multi-factor authentication) is the practice of expanding on the protection that is attained by using a password. After a person logs in with their password a two-factor authentication platform requires a separate code--typically generated by an authentication app or a text message or email to an assigned number/email address--to gain access to whatever is secured. 2FA is pretty standard on most online-based platforms nowadays. All things considered, it does help beef up security; but, can 2FA be more trouble than it’s worth? Let’s take a look.
With many software developers now incorporating two-factor authentication into their applications, it has become pretty commonplace to have the option regardless of the software you are using. Some of the best times to roll out two-factor authentication are when you have sensitive, personal, or proprietary information to secure. While there are cracks in the foundation of this method of access control, many businesses require that their staff sign into email or line of business apps using a 2FA system. Better safe than sorry, right?
In the business setting, it makes sense to put this strategy to use. While it may be mildly irritating for your staff, the benefits, if only for organizational piece of mind, are worth the reward. Individuals, on the other hand, don’t typically need the end-to-end security that a business needs. Those that do employ some degree of additional security (beyond passwords) don’t always find it to be helpful. There is also the small matter to discuss that suggests a 2FA platform doesn’t even work.
Wait, Two-Factor Authentication Doesn’t Work?
Studies have shown, and have been corroborated by industry professionals, that two-factor authentication is just like any other currently-used, non-biometric security standard: about to be antiquated. Today, hackers are creating phishing websites that look just like the corresponding site on a web services website that states that their account information is about to go bad. The fooled party enters the information needed and now the hackers have the password, the one-off authentication code and complete access to the system.
This may be a troubling trend, but rest assured, it is typical of every security strategy that has come up. The predominance of hacking makes all efforts seem insecure. Think about what you’ve been told. Just a short time ago you had to have a near-random passphrase, before that you needed to use a password manager, before that you needed to have a complex password of at least 12 digits that included capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. That’s not to say that 2FA doesn’t work. It absolutely does. Just be mindful that relying too much on one part of your access control strategy will likely result in data breach, headache, and frustration.
2F-Awesome Situations to Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication may not be the be-all, end-all to your security needs, but it is still better than nothing. Here are a few situations where you will absolutely want to institute 2FA:
- Remote access to corporate networks - With businesses using a more mobile workforce, securing remote endpoints makes a lot of sense.
- Ecommerce - Anytime you require people to submit or view sensitive or financial information, using 2FA is a good practice.
- Cloud services - Shared computing resources in the cloud should be secured to their max.
- Password recovery - People lose their password. Getting a new one should be a very secure process.
- Communication platforms - If protecting your identity is important, locking down accounts on social media, email, and other communication applications with 2FA will add an extra layer of security.
Two-factor authentication can be a mixed bag. Some people swear by it, some people won’t. If your business wants to do what it can to secure its digital assets, it can do a lot worse than using 2FA. Call the IT experts at Heart of Texas Network Consultants today to have a conversation about how to properly roll out your 2FA platform at (254) 848-7100.