The majority of web users identify cyber attacks as one of their top concerns when they are browsing through the Internet or performing any other web activity that requires their personal or sensitive information. In addition to this, both large, small or medium-scale businesses and companies who run significant portions of their daily operations online, also view cyberattacks as a major threat to their overall productivity and output.
Due to the growing concerns of web users and the need for the development and implementation of effective security measures such as secure configuration and access control that allows for increased web protection, two-factor authentication came onto the scene.
Two-factor authentication also known as 2FA is a form of proactive and adaptive online security tool that provides users with a multi-layered verification process that requires them to proof and validate ownership before access is granted to proceed with an action.
Basically, two-factor authentication is a security measure that involves the confirmation of your identity by using factors that falls into three possible categories comprising something you know (the knowledge factor), something you have (the possession factor) or something you are (the inherent or biometric factor).
This article presents some of the top benefits of two-factor authentication or 2FA, along with a brief tutorial on how to get started with either Google Authenticator or the Microsoft 2FA application.
Benefits of using two-factor authentication
1. Improves security:
Two-factor authentication provides organisations and users with an additional layer of security. This measure will require extra details beyond the regular username or password before access can be granted.
This makes it difficult for hackers to gain access and lessens the chances of data breaches because only the authorised user can have access to the second factor that will unlock an online account or device.
Two-factor authentication strengthens your login procedure especially when you choose a weak password that is easy to guess. Two-factor authentication reinforces online security as access will require either one-time passwords (OTP’s), security token, fingerprint, facial or voice recognition which are all difficult to crack.
2. Reduce operating cost:
A lot of online businesses, without proper security measures, spend huge sums of money informing their customers about suspicious activities on their accounts and equally helping them to reset their passwords or solve any subsequent issues that may occur on those same accounts due to account breaches.
When you implement and maintain an effective two-step authentication process that requires your customers to validate ownership of an online account, then you will reduce the chances of account breaches.
Therefore, you will incur fewer expenses on customer service help desks because you have taken preventive measures to mitigate against unpleasant situations even before it happens.
This will result in the reduction of your operating costs and allow you to channel valuable time, effort and manpower to other vital areas of your enterprise.
3. Increase productivity and output
When you implement adequate security measures such as mobile two-step factor authentication to protect your business vital data, your employees can work from anywhere and on their personal devices, without the fear of putting your company at risk.
The ability for your personnel to securely access documents, back up work data and information without exposing the business online network to risk of data breaches can lead to an increase in productivity and output. This is because there are little or fewer limitations to your workspace capabilities.
How to activate two-factor authentication using Microsoft Authenticator
Microsoft Authenticator is a software app from Microsoft that provides users with two-step verification services. This application ensures dual protection of all your account credentials and works by synchronizing your vital information with the authentication server of the account you want to log in.
Here are the steps to set up two-factor authentication using the Microsoft Authenticator:
1. Download and install the Microsoft Authenticator on your Android or iOS device, then open it.
2. Open the website that you wish to enable two factor authentication for.
3. There should be a QR code or numeric code. Use the Microsoft Authenticator app to scan the QR code in, or alternatively manually enter the code shown.
4. That is really it. Next time you go to login on your website, you will be prompted to enter a 2FA code which you can now access from the Microsoft Authenticator app.
How to activate two-factor authentication using Google Authenticator
Google Authenticator is a software app from Google that provides users with two-step verification services. This application ensures dual protection of all your account credentials and works by synchronizing your vital information with the authentication server of the account you want to log in.
Here are the steps to set up two-factor authentication using Google Authenticator:
1. Download and install the Google Authenticator on your Android or iOS device.
2. To activate your Google account, head to your web browser on your computer or tablet and sign in to your Gmail account.
3. At the top right corner where your profile picture is displayed, search for and select the “my accounts” option.
4. A new page will be shown to you containing various options. Search for the “Sign in and security” option which has a lock symbol by the side.
5. Sign in to your Google account and a list of options will be shown at the bottom screen. Click on two-step verification and enable it. Proceed to choose the option to use Google Authenticator Application. (You can also choose the text messaging service that will send a secure verification code to you).
6. When you select the Google Authenticator Application, a barcode will be generated on your computer screen.
7. Using your phone, you need to scan the barcode. A short message indicating successful setup will be displayed on your computer screen and the account automatically logged in on your mobile Google Authenticator application.
8. A secure code for that account will be generated on your phone, you need to input the code in the required field on your computer or tablet. This is required to complete the setup process
It is crucial that you set up two-factor authentication for your critical accounts. This step requires only a little bit of effort on your part but provides you with a solid level of security on all your accounts.
While 2FA is not 100% secure, it provides an additional layer of security against unauthorized access or breaches to your sensitive accounts.