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What is two-factor authentication?

Learn more about 2FA and why businesses use it to help protect their most vulnerable information and networks.

2FA defined

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an identity and access management security method that requires two forms of identification to access resources and data. 2FA gives businesses the ability to monitor and help safeguard their most vulnerable information and networks.

Benefits of 2FA

Businesses use 2FA to help protect their employees’ personal and business assets. This is important because it prevents cybercriminals from stealing, destroying, or accessing your internal data records for their own use.

The advantages of 2FA are endless. For example, with 2FA, there’s no need for users to carry or download a token generator, or an app associated with one. Most websites use your mobile device to text, call, or use a personalized 2FA for their business to verify your identity.

Some other advantages of 2FA include:

• There’s no need to use a hardware token generator. These types of 2FA methods are often lost or misplaced. However, with advanced technology, 2FA methods are more convenient than ever.
• Passcode generators are more efficient than traditional passwords. Generators are the safer option because no two passcodes are the same.
• Max passcode entry prevents cybercriminals from hacking and accessing sensitive data.
• The process is manageable and user-friendly.

Authentication methods for 2FA

There are different authentication methods when using two-factor authentication. Here’s a list of some of the most popular options.

Hardware tokens

Businesses can give their employees hardware tokens in the form of a key fob that produces codes every few seconds to a minute. This is one of the oldest forms of two-factor authentication.

Push notifications

Push two-factor authentication methods require no password. This type of 2FA sends a signal to your phone to either approve/deny or accept/decline access to a website or app to verify your identity.

SMS verification

SMS, or text messaging, can be used as a form of two-factor authentication when a message is sent to a trusted phone number. The user is prompted to either interact with the text or use a one-time code to verify their identity on a site or app.

Voice-based authentication

Voice authentication works in a similar way to push notifications, except that your identity is confirmed through automation. The voice will ask you to press a key or state your name to identify yourself.

2FA implementation

Implementing 2FA within a business or personal setting is beneficial in protecting vulnerable networks and databases.

With a mobile device, you can generate your own codes, or tokens, to provide a unique set of letters/numbers to verify your identity. These codes are sent via SMS and are verified through a website or app. It is important to note that the website or app that you’re identifying yourself through is reliable and safe.

One-time passcodes that are generated through apps or websites are more time-sensitive than an SMS code or token.

Here are some tips to ensure your two-factor authentication implementation goes as smoothly as possible.

• Consider using the most common method of implementation, SMS authentication. It’s convenient and ensures that all user identities are verified via a reliable phone number.
• Remember that most users can implement 2FA through the security settings of their smartphone or electronic device.
• Find the right two-factor authentication provider. Each company that hosts authentication services has their own process of implementation. For example, the Authenticator app allows you to register one or more of your business/personal devices to ensure that all are protected.

Businesses and individuals can implement these two forms of 2FA through Microsoft’s Authenticator app. This service provides authenticator options, both two-factor and multi-factor, depending on your unique individual or business needs.

Learn more about 2FA safety.

2FA vs. MFA

The difference between two-factor authentication, 2FA, and multi-factor authentication, MFA, is that 2FA, or two-factor authentication, involves two sets of steps to identify a user. In addition, 2FA utilizes one-time passcodes that are time-sensitive to prevent identity theft. On the other hand, MFA, or multi-factor authentication, involves two or more steps or processes to identify a user.

Usually, businesses with high-level security (i.e., healthcare facilities, government agencies, or financial services) opt for multi-factor authentication versus two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication helps add a layer of security to all your online personal and business accounts.

Learn more about 2FA and MFA services.

Learn more about Microsoft Security

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Frequently asked questions

  • Any organization or individual interested in protecting their personal and business data should utilize 2FA methods. This type of security will ensure that all assets cannot be accessed without proper identity verification. Plus, this can eliminate the possibility of information being exposed to the public by cybercriminals and hackers.

  • 2FA protects businesses by ensuring that all assets (i.e., documents, confidential information, employee personal records) are protected by this dual security system.

    Unfortunately, with the rise of cyberattacks, traditional passwords are not as secure as they once were.

  • Zero Trust and 2FA both give consumers control over their personal and business-related information. Cybercriminals find new ways to gain access to networks every day.

    Zero Trust is a business software that helps prevent cybercriminals from getting access to sensitive data and networks by placing a firm protection on business and personal assets. Similarly, 2FA helps safeguard sensitive data and networks, but in a different way—through time-sensitive passcodes, voice messages, and SMS texts and tokens.

  • 2FA is an effective way to ensure that an organization or individual doesn’t fall victim to a cyberattack or hacker. 2FA utilizes time-sensitive token generators, or passcodes, to help prevent identity theft and data loss.

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