The 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) system is a security process whereby the user verifies themselves using two separate authentication factors in order to better safeguard their credentials, as well as the resources that the user is able to access.
Also known as dual factor authentication or two-step verification, this method offers a level of assurance that is higher than others that depend on single-factor authentication, or SFA, where the user only provides one factor – usually a passcode or password. The 2FA system is a brother of the U2F system, like the fido u2F security key.
Why is it so important?
With two-factor authentication, the user provides a second factor in addition to the password. This is typically a security token or even a biometric factor such as a facial scan or fingerprint.
When the 2FA system is used in any process, it adds an extra layer of security. It makes it much harder for would-be hackers to gain access to the user’s online accounts or devices, since merely knowing the password won’t be enough to pass the check for authentication.
Examples of 2FA Authenticating Methods
This method has long since been used to protect sensitive data and systems. Lately, more and more online service providers are relying on 2FA to keep their users’ credentials from the hands of attackers who steal password databases and use pishing campaigns to get user passwords.
There are various ways of authenticating someone using more than one method including:
- Knowledge Factors – This is something that the user KNOWS (eg. password, pin, etc.)
- Possession Factors – This is something that the user HAS (eg. ID card, smartphone, security token, etc.)
- Inherence Factors or Biometric Factors – This is something that is INHERENT to the user’s physical being (eg. fingerprint, voice recognition, gait, speech, or keystroke dynamics, etc.)