What does two-factor authentication do?

Even if you’re not really sure what two-factor authentication is, you’ve probably used it before. It’s becoming a popular way to keep social media apps and online banking apps more secure, so chances are if you’ve signed into your Facebook or Google account in the last year or two you’ve done so using two-factor authentication.

Two-step authentication is also sometimes called 2FA or “two-step” or simply “verification”. But in short, all you need to know is that it’s a simple way to make sure you are who you say you are when you log into an account. Because you have to confirm your identity in two different ways, the likelihood of your account being hacked is reduced.

There is also single-factor authentication which exactly what it sounds like. With single-factor authentication, you log in using just your username and password. Because there is no double checking, single-factor authentication is less secure.

How two-factor authentication is currently being used

Two-factor authentication is a fairly new technology and has only been popular for the last couple of years. Apple didn’t start using it until 2017 and Google only implemented it a year prior in 2016.

Right now, two-factor authentication is popular with the general public. You might use it when you set up Apple ID on a new Apple device or when you sign into Google on a new device. Two-factor authentication is already being used to protect sensitive website data for some businesses, but in the future, it may become a standard for website security across the board.

In short, two-step authentication uses something you know (e.g. a password or code) and something you own (e.g. a fingerprint or a digital token). Right now, a popular way two-factor authentication is used is by receiving a temporary code through SMS and then typing the code on the other device you’re using.

Using a code or a fingerprint works well because most of the time individuals carry their mobile phone. They can simply tap with their finger or type in a code. The temporary nature of the code and the uniqueness of an individual’s fingerprint makes the process even safer.

The future of two-step authentication

There are a lot of ways to help secure your website and your data, including getting an SSL certificate, keeping software up to date, and protecting against attacks. Two-factor authentication adds an extra line of defense for your information.

Two-factor authentication is already being used on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, banking apps, Amazon, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Reddit, and even Pinterest. It’s easy to enable if you go into your settings.

But two-factor authentication can be used in ways beyond securing your social media account. It’s possible to add two-factor authentication to your own website to further protect it, and it’s steadily becoming a more popular way to secure data.

Right now, Google Authenticator is the leader in providing websites with the option for two-step authentication, but there are other providers including Twilio Authy and LastPass Authenticator.

These programs are aimed at allowing businesses to use two-step authentication for their own systems like websites and web apps. Many individuals and businesses are already jumping on board, eager to keep up with the latest and greatest ways to protect their personal information as well as their customer’s data by installing two-step authentication for their own website logins.

Have questions about how to keep your website secure?

Digital Bridge is a web development company operating in Fitzroy, Melbourne. If you want to find out more about keeping your information safe and your website up to date, you can reach out to us at hello@digitalbridge.com.au or call us at 03 8658 2434.