Two-Factor Authentication and Why it is Important in Cybersecurity

Two-Factor Authentication and Why it is Important in Cybersecurity

Lyton atinga

The internet has brought with it a lot benefits to the human life. Accessing information from around the world is now as easy as making a few taps on your mobile device. We could never ask for more…

However, with the myriad of benefits also come the curses that are internet frauds, security breaches and innumerable digitals crimes. In as a far as this does not spell significant doom for internet users, it is still a great concern especially when it comes to safeguarding your privacy online.

Although companies are putting billions into security features annually, data breaches are still on the rise. Most of them are still struggling to protect user data and some are battling their fate in courts courtesy of data breaches. What does this mean? Are we not doing enough in terms of developing tenacious security features? Or are companies investing in the wrong security technology?

There are a lot of security systems that have been developed to curb the problem of data privacy on the web.

Some of them have been satisfactorily successful while some have flopped terribly. However, there is not one security initiative that has been able to completely phase out cybercrime. This, therefore, means that the quest to build a secure internet is an ongoing one with no foreseeable destination.

If you have been following keenly, you will realize that most of the breaches are password related. Even the big fish on the internet are falling prey to attackers targeting weak passwords. For example, iCloud, DropBox and the United States Postal Service have been breached by taking advantage of sketchy passwords.

There are a lot software that are still on the pipeline and promising to make the internet more secure. Some exist that we love, although they do not guarantee total security but still they a pretty good job.

When it comes to password protection, however, one technique stands out among others: the two-factor authentication (2FA).

What is the two-factor authentication?

Although sometimes referred to as Multi factor authentication, 2FA is a security feature which uses a two-step verification process when verifying a user’s identity. With 2FA process, you will require more than just a password to verify your identity. 2FA achieves its purpose by capitalizing on three different forms to authenticate your identity. The 3 principles are:

  • Something you know such as a username or password
  • Something you have such as a smartphone or ATM card
  • Something you are such as facial recognition, eye scan or fingerprint (biometrics).

What happens is this: When you are for example creating a new online account using your phone number, you will be required to enter a password (something you know) after which a code will be send to your phone (something you have) in order to verify, say, you phone number. The same happens with email addresses. How many times have you been asked to verify your email address before proceeding with registration or accessing vital services? That was two factor authentication right there.

How is two-factor authentication important to cybersecurity?

This is the simplest but most effective way to protect yourself or your users online. To put things in perspective, let’s go back to the email address and phone number scenario.

Assuming someone were to try and access your account using your email address and a password. A website which does not use 2FA authentication would have simply allowed them to enter a password and they are set to go. If they get the password right, they access your account and what happens next is disastrous. On the other hand, if the website required 2FA, the person trying to impersonate you would have been forced to verify their identity even after entering the password. If you had used a phone number during registration, a code would probably be send to that number which they would have to enter before continuing. But since they don’t have your phone and SIM card, there is no way they would have been able to do that. So that would have been a dead end for them and your account would have been secure.

This goes to show just how 2FA is vital to cybersecurity. However, despite this success, 2FA has had its share of huddles.

Challenges facing the implementation of two-factor authentication

Although many businesses have readily embraced the idea of 2FA, they face a lot of challenges in terms of implementations. For once, many companies lack personnel who succinctly understand the workings of 2FA. Without understanding the security component of this system, it becomes very difficult to implement it and get it to benefit your security needs.

The biggest huddles of all stem from lack of co-operation from users. Internet users are very impatient and anything that requires them to do more than just enter a password and a username is a huge turnoff. And to be honest, 2FA can be a huge time suck.

Most of them abandon the registration process completely meaning that the concerned company loses a chance to widen its user base.

This is a scary prospect for companies. No one wants to lose users. And, therefore, you find that most of the websites will quickly do away with 2FA. Getting users to understand the importance of 2FA is important but nonetheless devastating. Unless the user truly perceives the value attached to 2FA, there is no way they are going to go through with it.

So as a company, it is up to you to make the users understand why 2FA is important for their security. When sensitive information such as financial details are involved, for example, you need to let your customers understand that they could lose their money if they don’t go through with 2FA.


Passwords used to be a thing a few years back. But as tech grows, cyber criminals are growing and now deciphering passwords is a child’s play. 2FA helps to keep us more secure by ensuring that cyber attackers require more than just a password to access our accounts.

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