Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) improves security by adding an extra step to the login process.
One thing has become clear over the last few years: Passwords are not enough to provide good security for sensitive data. Hacking tools, phishing scams, and poor password discipline by users have exposed the weakness of “password only” login systems.
According to modern security principles, there are three main ‘factors’ for authenticating a user:
- Something you know (password)
- Something you have (cell phone or fob)
- Something you are (fingerprint, eye scan, voice)
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) (also called multi-factor authentication) adds a second level of authentication to an account login.
You still enter your password but then you must also provide a second ‘Factor’ to gain access. How you get the second Factor depends on what type of 2FA solution you use.
The most common 2FA systems will provide you with a second authentication code via one of the following methods:
- An “Authenticator app” on your cell phone
- A text or email
- A custom fob or card
Some systems can also use biometric methods like a fingerprint or eye scan as the second authentication method but this is less common because it requires additional equipment.
Most online services support one or more methods for 2FA but you can also use 2FA to login to your Windows computers.
How much more secure is it?
There is no way to overstate this: 2FA is much more secure than “password only” authentication. For someone to login as you with 2FA they will need both:
- Your password
- Access to your mobile phone
Getting access to one of these things may be easy but getting both probably isn’t.
How to Setup Two-Factor Authentication
Most major web apps and services support 2FA including: CloudSync from WTI, Office 365, Google, Dropbox, Quickbooks Online, LastPass, etc. Enabling 2FA is typically very simple. Each app will have instructions for enabling it and which solutions they support.
Some 2FA systems will just send a text to your cell number but the most common solution is to use an “Authenticator App” on your cell phone such as the free Google Authenticator.
Logging in with 2FA
Logging in with 2FA is easy.
- Open your App just as you always have
- Enter your password
- It will prompt you for your second authentication code.
- Get your 2FA code from a text or the “Authenticator App” on your cell phone
- Enter your 2FA code
That’s it. An extra step but very simple and quick! It’s a relatively minor inconvenience for much better security.
2FA is an important piece of a Secure Environment
Willits Technologies strongly recommends that 2FA be used with all Online Services that store sensitive information. 2FA is also highly recommended for any Cloud accessible services like Terminal Servers and for mobile computers that regularly function outside of your Internal network (Field laptops, etc.).
As with all security solutions, 2FA is just one piece of a Secure Computing Environment. Always remember that no security measures are perfect. Even the most secure systems in the world can be (and have been) breached but using a 2FA system makes it much harder for someone to access your data or systems.
For more information about Two-Factor Authentication or any other part of a Secure Computing Environment please contact us.
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