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2-Factor Authentication (2FA)! What are 2FAs?

 Praise Oyeniyi


A common example of a 2FA system is the ATM (Automated Teller Machine). Joe has his card and he needs to withdraw cash from his account, on getting to the ATM, he inserts his card into the machine but, oh well ..., he can’t just type in the amount he wants to withdraw (i.e. despite the fact that Joe was present physically). Joe still has to provide his PIN (the second factor authentication) to confirm to the machine that it is truly Joe that is here for his money.

What is a 2-Factor Authentication❓

A 2-Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security added to the login process that helps to verify the user’s identity and prevent cybercriminals from accessing your private info. As the name suggests, two-factor authentication requires one extra step —and a second factor (a code sent to your phone, fingerprint scan…) — to log onto a site or access an online account. You can only access the site by then providing the second authenticator. 

How does a 2FA works?

Two-factor authentication is designed to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to an account with nothing more than a stolen password. Users that use the same password on multiple websites are at a high of getting their passwords compromised.

If there is a two-factor authentication then there must be a Single Factor Authentication (SFA). A very good and common example of SFAs are passwords. 

How does a 2FA works?

2FA are generally broken into three categories:

  1. Knowledge These factors require something Joe already knows, like; security questions, a PIN, or a specific keystroke. 
  2. Possession These factors require something Joe possesses, like a debit card or a USB drive, that Joe has to insert into the device to gain access.
  3. Biology Access is granted once the user proves their identity through biological markers like a fingerprint or voice.

What are the common types of 2FA?

There are several types of 2FAs, all of them relying on factors listed above. 

  • Hardware tokens This type of 2FA requires users to possess a type of physical token, such as a USB token, that they must insert in their device before gaining entry.
  • SMS and voice 2FA You’ll receive either a text or voice message giving you a code that you must then enter to access a site or account. Most commonly, an OTP. 
  • Push notifications for 2FA. You’ll download a push notification app to your phone. When you enter your login credentials to access a website, a push notification is sent to your smartphone. A message will then appear on your phone requesting that you approve your log-in attempt with a tap. 
  • Biometrics You have to verify it’s you through something physical about yourself. Most commonly, this means using a fingerprint scanner, face recognition, etc. 

Others are; Location, Software tokens for 2FA, etc.

2-Factor Authentication (2FA)! What are 2FAs?

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