Two-Factor Authentication is most often used as a more secure means of logging into a website or application. This is because there are two components used to identify a user before they can log in or register to a system. Usually when this form of authentication is enabled, in addition to inputing their password, users must enter a unique verification code generated upon their attempted login. This verification code usually will expire after a short time, and is send to the user via a separate means of communication, such a SMS. The combination of these two steps increases the level of security of these applications and provides users with additional protection. In the past users would merely be required to input their username and password, with their passwords acting as the sole factor of authentication, however, the addition of a second level of authentication reduces risks of possible hacking.
The implementation of two-factor authentication means that users are required to input two different types of credentials before gaining access to their account. The second credential in this 2-factor system is not always a verification code: it can be anything that identifies the user, such as a fingerprint, a secret answer to a question or a randomly generated code unique to a specific attempted log-in. In some cases, authentication factors can include physical objects which the user possesses, such as a USB-stick, a bank card, or a machine which randomly generates codes. However the major drawback to this method is that users must carry such possessions around with them at all times if they wish to readily access their accounts. Furthermore, if the object is lost of stolen this can result in their accounts becoming compromised.
Mobile Authentication via SMS
In a means to overcome such issues, mobile phone two-factor authentication was developed. If a user is attempting to access their account via their mobile phone, then they will often be sent a unique SMS code, which they will in turn be required to input when attempting to log in. This approach requires mobile phones, an object which users are almost certain to be in possession of and have on their person the vast majority of the time.
Two-Factor Authentication is already provided in applications and services such as iMessage, Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, PayPal and many others. Recently, popular instant messaging service Snapchat announced an update which allows users to enable a two-factor Login Verification, through the use of an SMS code. There is no doubt that Two-factor Authentication is growing in use, and with the ever-increasing issues of hacking and threats to our personal information, it is clear why.
Two-factor SMS authentication can be set up with almost any user system or website. This is done via SMS API integration, which is more simple than it sounds. However, SMS integration with an existing system is not just limited to security functions. Many organisations already integrate SMS into their operations in a number of ways, be it through sending SMS reminders to staff or customers, sending key information to remote users, or advertising products with SMS. The possibilities are vast, and many companies are now realising the benefits of SMS in their organisations. Did you know that open rates are almost 4 times higher with SMS than with email?