Before addressing the question 'What is two-factor authentication?', let's start with understanding why it's essential to improve our online account security. Did you know that 1 out of 5 businesses is a victim of cybercrime? Nowadays, we depend on our mobile devices and laptops for everything, and this is exactly what cybercriminals are counting on. Putting in place inadequate protection measures makes your digital accounts easy prey, and it can lead to expensive and reputation-destroying consequences.
While using passwords is better than having no protection in place, they're not foolproof. Luckily, businesses and individuals can add extra levels of security to their digital accounts in the form of two-factor authentication.
What is two-factor authentication?
Two-factor authentication, two-step authentication, or two-way authentication is the technical term used for the security process in which users confirm their claimed identity in two ways before they are granted access to the system. There are various ways to implement the two-step authentication, but in this blog, we will talk about the SMS-based method.
SMS-based two-way authentication is the most common method of implementation. In the SMS-based two-way authentication service, once you've entered your username and password, the site will send the user a unique one-time passcode (OTP). This 5-10 digit OTP is dynamically generated, and it needs to be entered into the system after entering your username and password in order to gain access to your digital account.
5 key benefits of two-factor authentication
As mentioned in the introduction, many IT departments across industries are continually battling against fraudsters and hackers. Two-factor authentication is an important weapon that every company should adopt as it comes with many benefits for businesses. Let's dig in!
Benefit #1: Enhanced security
Using two-way authentication in combination with alphanumeric passwords greatly enhances security. With the activation of OTP in two-way authentication, fraudulent transactions require more resources and effort. Through this method, cybercriminals need to have access to both the password of the account as well as the user's mobile. So, even if hackers manage to get hold of your email address and password, they won't be able to access your account unless they have their hands on your mobile to get the OTP. These multiple layers of authentication make data more secure, and significantly reduces the chances of fraud.
As a result, it will increase a sense of security amongst users. Users won't and don't mind inputting additional information if it means that their data is more secure. On the contrary, users appreciate businesses going the extra mile to protect their personal information, which reflects in the customer's loyalty towards the company. Companies gain better customer retention rates and higher sales.
Benefit #2: Reduced help desk support costs
Did you know that between 30% to 40% of calls received at helpdesks are related to password resets?
Without a two-Factor Authentication system, password recoveries are only possible via the helpdesk, adding massive amounts of working hours to the cost sheet. By providing a secure way for end-users to reset their passwords independently, the company receives fewer calls. As a result, the company will incur lower costs, the pressure on the help desk staff will be reduced, and employee satisfaction and productivity increase.
Benefit #3: Increased productivity and flexibility
When data is stored securely through two-factor authentication, more and more companies are feeling confident to allow their employees to work remotely without the fear of data breaches. Thanks to two-factor authentication tools, when working remotely, employees can identify themselves securely and gain access to internal systems from literally any device and any location without putting the corporate network information at risk. Without a doubt, this flexibility and freedom lead to a high level of productivity and job satisfaction.
Benefit #4: Convenience
OTP delivery methods are easy to use because users don't have to configure or download a separate app to receive them. OTPs are sent in real-time and received within literally seconds. Many people already have their mobile phones readily at hand, so accessing SMS OTPs is highly convenient and the approval is immediate. The best part is that you don't need to have a smartphone to receive the OTPs – they can be delivered to any working mobile device.
Benefit #5: Low-cost
Many small company owners assume that implementing a two-factor authentication protocol is expensive and not necessary. They believe that cybercrimes usually take place in big organizations. But they are wrong. 43% of cyberattacks are against small businesses! Shocking right? Furthermore, the cost is much less than what they think and especially considering how much a hack of their system would cost them. In fact, many popular online services offer this feature for free, and some even provide this security measure by default. For example, big companies allow users to protect their accounts with two-factor authentication for free! Of course, there may be some web apps that may charge you a small fee, but in comparison to hardware purchases and shipping costs, on-demand OTP delivery methods offer significant cost savings.
In conclusion, the impact of a cyber attack can be financially devastating as well as reputation damaging. Two-factor authentication is a handy and unique tool to add an essential layer of extra security. It not only enhances safety, but also increases employee productivity helping the companies bottom line. Many companies are using two-factor authentication as a method for customers who want the reassurance of added security.