Two-Factor Authentication Systems on the Rise

Mark Koschmeder
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The technology used to help ensure account security and protect against hackers and malware is constantly changing. This evolution is necessary to keep up in the virtual arms race for sensitive personal information, which can be very valuable to identity thieves or those looking to compromise important business systems. One of the methods used to help thwart hacking attempts has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity. Two-factor authentication systems provide account protection that is more difficult to crack than standard single-factor systems.

Information technology security experts are likely to have noticed the increased amount of hacking and malware intrusion attempts in the past few months and years. McAfee Labs, a major worldwide provider of security solutions, noted a rise of up to 50 percent in digitally signed applications that turned out to be malware. A 16 percent increase in suspicious sites was cited in the same report. This is an important measurement, as it indicates an increase in the number of hackers who are turning to phishing and similar methods of stealing information.

While the need for more stringent techniques has quickly become apparent in many organizations tasked with account security, single-factor account authentication remains popular. This can range in form from a simple user password to a security question or even a biometric scan, but the end result is that only a single obstacle stands between a hacker and potentially sensitive information. A two-tiered approach such as a two-factor account authentication protocol can provide an exponential increase in the number of potential identification combinations, making it easier to protect information. Many of these techniques combine single-factor methods, such as those that require a password and security question or a biometric scan and SMS code verification.

Two-factor authentication systems are not a silver bullet for all account security problems. Many security questions, for instance, ask for information that may be available on social media sites or credit reports. The level of account security provided by two-factor systems can only build on the individual strengths of each. Regular password changes and more difficult security questions can greatly increase the overall protection afforded by these systems.

The increased adoption of two-factor authentication systems helps create an additional layer of protection from hacking or brute-force malware intrusion attempts. These systems are not foolproof, and quality account security requires further protection in the form of data encryption and more advanced techniques. As the arms race between hackers and information technology security experts continues, the adoption of two-factor authentication systems is likely to continue to spread. Understanding how and why these systems afford greater protection than single-factor methods can give you a competitive edge in the market and help ensure that your businesses or clients benefit from enhanced account security.

(Photo courtesy of twobee /


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