The Password Switch: How Safe is Your Cyberspace with Two-Factor Authentication?

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. New cyber threats are emerging all the time, and it’s up to you to keep up to date on the risks… and what you need to do to protect yourself. In this guest article, bloggers from Fueled show you how you can take the first steps toward protecting your personal life and your business with two-factor authentication, or 2FA.

If you type in “cybersecurity” in the Google search engine, leaving the tool to retrieve all-time results, you will get well over 30 million hits. Limit the time settings to just 2012, and the total number retrieved gets down to around 1, 670,000 results. Even for 2017 only, the total number of almost 12 million hits is something to ponder about. The difference is striking.

As smart technology expands, along with globalization and mobility, there is a rising interest in cybersecurity not only on an institutional level but a personal level as well. But let us leave governments to worry about the rising costs of institutional information security. As individuals, we have more important factors to consider.

Each and every one of us needs to bite into our personal chunk of responsibility. Chances are, you are still relying on the good old reliable password to keep your data safe. If this is the case, it is due time to look at two-factor authentication or, if we use the popular tech jargon, 2FA.

Is this advanced-level security tool as cool as it sounds? Well, it depends on how fast you keep up with the times. The front is open on both sides: more data out into the open (especially with shared cloud space, such as app-as-a-service or SaaS) needs additional safeguard measures. Large businesses may need to go as far as applying multi-factor authentication and establish IT security strategies based on yet another neat term: magic quadrant analysis.

How will you know if you are keeping your data safe? As long as you don’t leave it all into the hands of the weakest link in data protection—the password—you are on the right track.

When it comes to keeping aware of cybersecurity, you don’t have much of a choice. As companies introduce new tools to mitigate new cybersecurity risks, you will have to play the game to keep up and keep your little slice of cyberspace safe.

More than One Way to Upgrade Your Safety with Two-Factor Authentication

If your computer password is an equivalent to keeping your apartment doors locked, then two-factor authentication is like getting a security camera and a watchdog. You are basically adding an extra step to improve access security. There are diverse 2FA methods that are making their way into popular IT security:

  • SMS two-factor authentication
  • 2FA software tokens
  • USB dongles
  • Hardware tokens

Will the widespread two-factor authentication make your life more difficult? In a way, yes. You will have to use more effort each time you log in to your computer. If you ask the same question the customers impacted by the Equifax data breach, though, you will get a different answer.

The added SMS authentication is common to large companies. It is something we are used to seeing in email access. Despite its universality, SMS is not the best way to keep your cyberspace safe, due to the risk of channel interception. Software options, like the Google Authenticator, for example, or USB dongles add another impediment to easy access. These tokens and dongles work much better.

Why 2FA is the Least You Can Do to Ward Threats

Traditional password-based authentication provides only one protection level – information. Using a second factor (a physical or a software item) or even a third factor (biometrics) is now fundamental. As we increasingly share more and more information digitally, the risks grow, and so people must become more interested in sophisticated data safety.

It is not the same if you sleep in a private condo with RFID locks and a surveillance system, and if you spend the night in a travel hostel, right? You can think of 2FA in the same way. Two-factor authentication works best around the usual password suspects, such as lack of strong passwords, using the same password for more than one account, using password managers, as well as putting a low-value worth on the personal data.

Hackers know their ways with passwords. They can crack a standard one in a jiffy. Due to its simplicity, adding some extra support by 2FA to beef up your password is more than a worthwhile use of your time.

Observing National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2017 with 2FA

The cyberthreat hype is real. However, there are flexible cyber security solutions that don’t let them gain momentum. Some progressive security pros have even announced the death of two-factor authentication in favor of multi-factor authentication. While that may be a part of the future, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s concentrate on how we can keep our data safe in the now using 2FA.