Instances of hacking and cyber crimes are becoming more prevalent in society today. That presents a real challenge for businesses that operate online — especially for financial institutions or companies that accept or process payments via the Internet.
As criminals become more sophisticated with their tools and tactics, businesses are left scrambling to come up with tools and security features that continue to provide a safe platform for commerce on the World Wide Web. Standard security methods, such as a simple username and a secure password, may not cut it any longer as online thieves can still access accounts for fraudulent purposes despite these primary security measures.
Two-step or multi-factor authentication, also sometimes called 2FA, is one such solution that is gaining much traction among financial institutions to help add an extra layer of security and protection.
Overview of Multi-Factor Authentication
Account names and passwords are frequent targets for thieves and hackers. One tool organizations are beginning to use to protect customers involves a process called two-step authentication. This multi-factor authentication process requires a secondary method of authenticating the account.
For users, it may appear frustrating at first. However, it provides an extra layer of security and is designed to protect your privacy, prevent cybercrimes, and increase your overall experience.
Enabling Your Financial Accounts
Two-factor authentications involve a two-step verification process.
- The first step may be entering your account identification and passwords.
- The second step traditionally has involved the use of tokens of some sort, issued by the financial institution. It could also be something in your possession, such as a FOB or smartphone. Lastly, in some cases, it could be your voice or fingerprint.
This type of two-step authentication greatly reduces fraud because it requires the use of a physical token to complete the authentication process. The downside, of course, is that it takes time to create physical tokens, such as:
- Actual tokens
- Credit cards
- Key fobs
While most financial systems do offer some multi-factor authentication, it is not necessarily automatic for all accounts. You may need to request or enable specific technology before you can take advantage of the added security two-party authentication provides.
Other Two-Step Authentication Account Types
This additional security comes in the form of virtual tokens and passcodes users can use to authenticate their accounts. That includes:
- SMS authentication codes
- QR authentication codes
- Email authentication codes
- RSA SecurID software tokens
- Laptop codes
While many people envision a world in which fingerprint, voice print, facial recognition, or retina scans were commonplace, they are not widely available for use at this time. The adoption of this technology for mobile devices, however, is establishing a path to more widespread use.
Today, there are also apps available that can assist with the second step of the authentication process. While some services require SMS authentication, going with services that utilize apps provides an added layer of security since it is so easy for hackers to intercept text messages or hijack phone numbers altogether.
Whether you are working with a financial institute or your favorite service provider on the web, it is likely that you will eventually be asked to provide secondary authentication on most, if not all, your online accounts.
Don’t allow the process to frustrate you. It is there for your security and protection. Remember, as hackers and thieves evolve, so must the methods businesses use to protect their customers.