What is 2 Factor Authentication and What are the Benefits?

John Grennan
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What is 2 Factor Authentication?

2 Factor Authentication or 2FA is a security measure that requires you to provide two separate pieces of information before you are granted access to an online service. In the past, it has been far too easy for hackers to obtain credentials and access your online accounts. By implementing 2FA you are telling the online service that you are in fact, who you claim to be. The most common method of authentication to date has been single factor authentication whereby you provide a username and password to access the service. With 2FA security is greatly enhanced as you must now provide a second form of authentication to access the service. Many services that offer or require 2FA make use of mobile devices as a means of secondary authentication. Common methods include an authenticator app, text messaging service or biometrics. With the authenticator app you set up your service and once you login into your account you will be prompted to enter a one-time code that will expire within a set time limit. Similarly, with text message authentication, the online service will send you a message with a one-time code that you must enter to access the service. Biometrics such as the fingerprint reader on your mobile device is another secure and speedy method of providing 2FA authentication.

What are the benefits of 2 Factor Authentication?

Reduce Fraud & Identity Theft

It is very likely that at least one of your online accounts has been compromised. To check simply enter any email address into this very useful and free online tool- Have I Been Pawned. Don’t be surprised if at least one of your email addresses has been subject to a compromise. Having 2 forms of verification greatly reduces the chances of a hacker gaining access to your online services including your business networks and the valuable data that you are responsible for.

Increased Productivity

Remote and hybrid working is the future of work for many businesses, and it has been shown to increase productivity. The danger with remote working is that it also opens up your organisation’s networks to potential compromise where remote workers don’t have stringent security tools and practices in place. Having 2FA in place gives you the confidence to allow your workers to work away from the office and mitigate the chances of a data breach. 2FA alone will not prevent a breach but combined with other tools such as email filtering and good cybersecurity practices by your team, it will greatly reduce it.

Combat Password Fatigue

The average computer user has anywhere between 60 and 80 passwords. With so many passwords to remember, many users resort to using the same password on multiple accounts or variants of the same password. Adding 2FA safeguards against password fatigue and adds an extra buffer that ensures that cybercriminals cannot hack even simple or repeated passwords.  

Lower Security Management Costs

2FA authentication reduces the amount of time your employees will spend on helpdesks for password resets that can be costly in terms of helpdesk expenses and employee productivity.   

Still not convinced? Then consider these metrics from Smallbiztrends

  • 43% of cyber-attacks target small business.
  • Only 14% of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective.
  • 60% of small companies go out of business within 6 months of a cyber-attack.

If you would like to know more about 2FA and how to protect your systems, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help. Email hello@it.ie and we’ll get right back to you.