2FA is necessary for web security because it diminishes the risk of a breach caused by compromised passwords. It creates an extra layer of security that cybercriminals cannot easily bypass because it requires more than just your username and password. If a hacker gains access to a password, there is nothing stopping them from gaining access to all applications with that password. That’s where 2FA comes into play. Without the second factor of approval, the password is useless. Most people have used 2FA without even knowing it. Log in to email and need to enter an SMS code after your password has been accepted? That is one example of 2FA… the second layer of security that protects your information. Two-Factor Authentication allows the owner of the accounts to identify if they were trying to log in, or someone else.
Typically, it works like this:
1. The user logs in to the website or service with their username and password.
2. The password is validated by an authentication server, and if correct, the user becomes eligible for the second factor.
3. The authentication server sends a unique code to the user’s second-factor device.
4. The user confirms their identity by approving the additional authentication from their second-factor device.
A 2019 report from Microsoft concluded that 2FA works by blocking 99.9% of automated attacks. Microsoft recommends everyone use at least some form of 2FA, even if it means a simple SMS one-time password. Other methods of 2FA include the use of authenticator apps such as DUO, LastPass, and Microsoft Authenticator. Authentication apps provide TOTP (Time-Based One-Time Passwords), that generates a code directly on your device rather than sending it across a network where it might be intercepted. This method may be a slightly better option than SMS authentication, where hackers can potentially SIM Swap – where the hacker contacts the phone carrier and claims to have lost their phone, requesting a new SIM be sent. The authentication code will then be sent directly to the hacker, allowing them to gain access to the victim’s accounts.