According to recent research, on average a person spends 397 minutes (six hours and 37 minutes) on the internet per day. With so much of people’s life happening online on computers and mobile devices, it is no surprise that digital accounts have become a magnet for criminals. 

The reality we are facing is that fraudsters and criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their hacking and data breaching attempts. This is demonstrated by the incredible cost of $8.44 trillion due to cybercrime in 2022. 

With the risk of cybercrime increasing, it is the organization’s responsibility to protect their users from data breaches and other attacks. An extra level of security could be achieved by implementing a measure called two-factor authentication (2FA). 

In this blog we discuss what 2FA is, the advantages and disadvantages and show a safe alternative that might be of use for your organization.

Let’s start.

What is two-factor authentication (2FA)?

Two-factor authentication, also described as multi-factor authentication, is an important identity and access management security method, requiring two forms (factors) of identity proofing to access accounts and data. 

In general, it is a security process that cross-verifies users of an app or website. The aim is to prove that the person trying to get access to an account truly is the owner of the account. 

Most often, this is done with an email address and proof of ownership of a previously verified mobile phone provided during digital onboarding. A user enters the email address and password and receives an authentication code on a mobile phone, which has to be entered as the following step. This allows businesses to trust that the person requesting access to an account is truly the owner. 

For a long time, the login process has been conducted with a password-only approach. This is a very vulnerable method as fraudsters are able to quickly hack passwords, especially if they are simple (e.g., date of birth, name), and gain access to accounts. 2FA intends to decrease the risk of the password-only approach and therefore protects consumers from fraud such as identity theft.

But does this approach really offer enough protection and security? To figure that out we will have a look at the different types of two-factor authentication and how they can provide different levels of protection.

Different types of two-factor authentication 

A business can make use of different types of two-factor authentication. All types offer a different level of security and can be categorized into three groups:

  • Something you know → This could be an answer to “secret questions” or a personal identification number (PIN). This approach offers the least amount of protection out of the three categories, as fraudsters are able to hack PIN codes and security questions.
  • Something you have → This refers to something a user has in their possession, such as a credit card or smartphone. Implementing this method into your business already offers a higher level of security and protection, as it is very unlikely that a fraudster is in possession of both of the two factors.
  • Something you are → This category is more advanced as it includes biometric patterns of a fingerprint or face, iris scan or voice recognition to authenticate a user. This method offers the highest level of protection as it is extremely difficult, almost impossible for fraudsters to steal or copy biometric patterns of an individual.
2FA different types of authentication

Now that you know about the different types of two-factor authentication, let’s have a look at what benefits it can bring to your organization.

What are the benefits of 2FA?

Clearly, 2FA is beneficial for the user of an online account. In general, two-factor authentication offers a couple of benefits for businesses as well. These benefits include:

  • Protection of user accounts → 2FA makes it harder for fraudsters to breach organization’s privacy-sensitive user data as two factors are necessary to log in to the systems by both your customers and your staff.
  • Increased trust → Implementing 2FA demonstrates to your customers that you care about protecting their information. This increases their trust in your organization.
  • Compliance with data protection regulations → Sensitive information should be protected from unauthorized access and fraud attempts. By implementing 2FA you comply with data privacy regulations.
  • ISO 27002 compliant → In order to receive the ISO 27002 certification, organizations must make use of 2FA internally.

After we talked about the advantages of 2FA, to paint the whole picture, we should discuss the potential downsides of 2FA next. 

Potential downsides of 2FA

Even though 2FA is already an improvement to the password-only approach, two-factor authentication has a couple of downsides as well. Those include:

  • Increased login time for users → Implementing 2FA adds an extra step to the login into a website or application. This means the user has to spend more time on the login process, resulting in a decreased user experience.
  • Maintenance → The 2FA system has to be maintained on an ongoing basis, which means an additional task for businesses.
  • Integration → Two-factor authentication usually depends on hardware or services by third parties. For example, a mobile service provider issuing the verification code via a text message to the user. The business has no chance of controlling external services in case of a malfunction, which creates a dependency issue.

Since these downsides can be pretty impactful for businesses, you might be wondering if there isn’t an alternative solution that adds security to your business. Let’s discuss one of the safest alternatives in the next section. 

What is an effective alternative to regular 2FA?

The alternative solution is based on the third category of 2FA: something you are. It is a solution that isn’t easy to hack, can’t be lost, forgotten or stolen and still offers convenience to customers and is easy to implement for businesses. 

Software companies, such as Klippa, have built identity verification powered by AI solutions, which use biometric authentication methods to confirm that a returning user is who they claim to be. It is one of the most secure and robust solutions available as users can simply use their mobile phone to perform the login process. 

Our biometric authentication flow often includes the following steps, but can be customized to fit into your own flow:

  1. Selfies → Users are asked to provide a quick selfie, which replaces one-time passwords or email authentication. Selfies are crucial as they provide facial biometric data, which are extremely difficult to fake.
  2. Liveness detection → The selfie is checked for liveness in real-time to avoid identity spoofing. With liveness checks, fraudsters can no longer use images to impersonate a person.
  3. Face matching → The real-time selfie is compared with the previously verified identity of the user through facial recognition.
  4. Decision/Result → Klippa sends users back to your platform with the decision (access granted/denied) provided within seconds.

As mentioned earlier, our biometric authentication solution can be customized to fit into your account login and authentication flow. The implementation of our identity verification software into your own application is easy and flexible since we offer proper documentation for both API and SDK

With the use of our software, you can make your authentication flow more robust and secure by eliminating the risks of spoofing and identity theft. On top of that, we assure you that we don’t store any of your or your customer’s data that is processed with our solution on our servers. This allows you to be compliant with data privacy regulations as well. 

Do you have additional questions about how our software can serve as an alternative to two-factor authentication? Please contact one of our experts or book a free demo down below.

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