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Meet Our Fearless LeaderDavid Ferris
David Ferris is the Owner and Principal CIO of Sensible Systems, LLC. Sensible Systems provides IT Management Services for small to mid-size companies in Colorado. Prior to founding Sensible Systems, David had over 20+ years of successful IT and high-tech experience including the roles of CIO, CTO, Senior Principal Consultant, and Managing Principal Consultant.
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Protect Yourself – Use Two-Factor Authentication for Your Business
Learn about what two-factor authentication is and how it works. Once you understand its benefits you will see how helpful it could be for your business.
Two-factor authentication is something every business should be using to protect themselves and their customers. You know the value of adding layers of security to your business. If you have a brick and mortar operation, you probably have a lot more than a simple lock on your front door. Security cameras, alarms, barriers and more are common for most businesses because one layer of security is never enough. The same is true for online security. Two-factor authentication gives your business and customer another layer of protection beyond the standard password – so why not use it to improve your security?
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
You have probably already encountered two-factor authentication as you navigate the internet for personal or business reasons. All the major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using it because it makes sense to do so. The process of two-factor authentication goes something like this:
Input your username and password. Two-factor authentication starts off just like your standard security measures. You input your username and password for the site you are trying to access or the app you are trying to use. This is the first step of the authentication process, the first factor.
Provide a second factor to authenticate yourself. Here is where two-factor authentication becomes special. It asks for you to provide a second factor that is much harder for hackers to mimic. For example, it might ask to send an authorization code to your smartphone or ask for your fingerprint to verify your identity. Hackers are much less likely to have these available to mimic you and try to access your account.
You have definitely encountered the older way to verify your identity – security questions. But security questions have become less and less effective at protecting your information than they used to be. Most security question answers can be found on your social media account, after all. Hackers can spend just a little time doing some research to find all the answers they need, particularly if they have already stolen your password from another site through their cybercrime efforts.
How to Use 2FA in Your Business
You can easily implement two-factor authentication or 2FA into your current business security efforts – both for your employees and your customers. There are multiple ways you can use two-factor authentication, including:
Text Messages (SMS). Most people prefer to use SMS to verify their identities over the other methods listed below because it is so easy to check your text messages and access the authorization code. All the user needs to do is log in with their username and password, then receive the code through SMS and type the code into the verification box. The only drawback to this method is that if the user loses their phone they can’t authenticate.
Email. You can also allow users to send their verification code to their email. They need to be able to access their email – which usually isn’t a problem – but if they can’t this method would not work. The other problem that can come up with emails is that they can sometimes get caught in spam filters and never arrive at the person’s inbox.
Phone Call. While this option is not used nearly as often as the two above, it is a possibility depending on the system you are using. The user can choose to get a phone call which will use text to speech to deliver the code they need to log in.
Tokens. Some companies find it easiest to give employees tokens, either hardware tokens like key fobs or software tokens through apps, that can then be used to provide the second factor in the authentication process.
Push Notifications. It is possible to get an app that will allow users to receive push notifications so that they can authenticate their accounts. They get the notification and then click yes or no to authenticate.
2FA is possible using a variety of methods – the most important thing is that you start using it to begin with. Whichever authentication method you choose, your business and your customers will be more secure as a result.