What are 2-step and 2-factor authentication?

What are 2-step and 2-factor authentication?

In the digital age, cybersecurity should be one of the top priorities for anyone who goes online. When it comes to verifying users’ identity, many are unaware of the two kinds of authentication measures available. Hackers are always going to find ways to manipulate software vulnerabilites, hardware faults, and other insecure platforms to their benefit. However, time has shown that the most vulnerable area of any business are their personnel, which is why many of the most common attack vectors target that part of a business first. A prime example of that are phishing emails (to gain access to accounts), malicious attachments (to gain a foothold on a network), or even social engineering (to get employees to compromise their network unknowingly).

If you want to improve your business's cybersecurity for you, your employees, and your customers, one of the first places you should look is your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cybersecurity, and greatly enhance the security of your personnel. Many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably. There are, however, subtle differences between the two.

Two-step authentication

A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a password or biometric reading) as well as another similar type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication adds an extra step in the verification process, making it more secure than single-step authentication (i.e., just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it won't be enough to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

Two-factor authentication

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multifactor authentication), which is significantly more secure. The "factors" that you use to sign in can be something that you KNOW (a password), something that you HAVE (an authenticator app that generates tokens or codes), or something that you ARE (something like a retinal scan, face ID, or touch ID.) The use of multiple factors makes it harder on attackers, requiring them to have access to multiple things in order to access your account, greatly reducing your attack surface and strengthening your security posture.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer, as the strength of your network is only as strong as it's weakest link. The method of authentication you use is just one of many choices that must be made to achieve that goal. If you're concerned about the security of your network and would like an audit, or want to take steps to enhance the security of your employees, give FrameWork a call. We'll make sure that you're taken care of!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.