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What is Two-Factor Authentication? And why does it matter?

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the requirement of a second piece of information from a user to enable them to log in to an online service, portal or app. Essentially requiring 2 layers of authentication to access protected information. 

Gone are the days of a universal password to access everything! 

As the online nature of our work and home lives increases, it is becoming more important than ever to ensure we are protected from a Cyber-attack. A Cyber-attack would be detrimental to any business who operates within the digital space. And not just online businesses – businesses are now using online apps to manage payroll, apps to manage productivity and apps to manage stock, to name just a few. 

Until recently, 2FA has primarily been used by the banking industry, however as Cyber attacks continue to increase in both frequency and complexity, other industries have now adopted a 2FA approach, including; social media, gaming accounts, email and e-commerce.

The two pieces of information required for authentication are sometimes described as a combination of something you ‘know’, ‘have’ or ‘are’. So traditionally, you ‘know’ your password, and you ‘have’ your debit card when you use an ATM to withdraw cash. More recent examples would be when logging into emails on a new device – you ‘know’ your password, and you ‘have’ your mobile phone to receive a 4 digit access code to input for access. Or, you ‘have’ your mobile phone and you ‘are’ your fingerprint, iris scan or voice pattern to open it. 

Most of the big brands have introduced 2FA over the last 12 months, and we would strongly advise you to allow this on any services or apps where it is available – both at home and at work. Using 2FA makes it considerably harder for a hacker to hack into your account. They may know your password, but they do not have our phone to receive the 4 digit authentication code, therefore they cannot progress any further. 

Time based 2FA, is where there is a time limit on providing an additional factor or authentication,  using time based 2FA gives that additional security layer, and makes an attack all the more difficult to carry out. 

2FA is the first step to protecting you and your business against a Cyber-attack.

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