Love it or hate it, two-factor authentication, or 2FA, gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling that everything will be okay. 2FA does make a difference and provides a valuable second line of defense against cybercriminals and other privacy threats. But it’s not bulletproof.
Here are a few things you should know about 2FA security and how you can improve your digital safety from start to finish.
Before We Begin
One of the most common ways that fraudsters, along with advertisers, big platforms like Facebook and Google, ISPs, nosy admins, and track what you do online is through your IP address. Your IP address is like a little trail that reveals everything you do online and puts you at risk of getting hacked.
If you’re thinking, “well, I should hide my IP,” then you’re absolutely right. The easiest and most effective way to do this is by using a VPN. VPNs both conceal your IP address and encrypt your internet connection, making them an indispensable security tool that everybody should use.
In combination with 2FA and a few other security solutions, we’ll dive into below, it’s the best way to ensure your safety online.
The Problems With 2FA
Let’s begin with a definition of 2FA. 2FA is the process of account authentication typically through using an additional verification method. In the vast majority of typical uses, it’s either an email or an SMS message with a one-time passcode you enter after inputting your password.
It’s probably occurred to you already what could go wrong here. If a hacker has already managed to penetrate your email address or phone, then they’ll receive the access code and will be able to get into your account.
Here are some of the most frequent ways hackers bust through 2FA systems:
● SIM Swapping: The easiest and most common 2FA hack. This requires zero technical skills, just social engineering strategies. Using information obtained via data breaches, social media, and other channels, hackers contact cellular companies and convince employees they are the true SIM card owners. They then will port the number of a new SIM and use the 2FA code to bypass the security system. This happened in major attacks, including Reddit and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter.
● SMS Interception: Exploiting vulnerabilities in cellular networks allows hackers to intercept SMS messages and reset access to accounts. To do this only required a name, phone number, and email address.
● Real-Life Threats: Imagine you’re sitting somewhere, and the message pops up. Anybody around you can see the message and shoulder-surf into your account. This is less common but still represents a potent threat.
● Algorithm Deciphering: All 2FA processes begin with a shared value that is then used to generate codes. Hackers can learn this information and duplicate it to build an identical match of the code generator.
This is just the beginning. There are many other ways hackers can overcome 2FA systems, including technical service scams, email interception, and more.
2FA is Good, But It Isn’t Perfect
We’re not saying you should go and disable 2FA on all your accounts. Like antivirus software, 2FA has been one of the most successful mainstream security developments of all time. But you have to recognize these weaknesses and take additional steps to secure yourself.
In addition to using a VPN to conceal your online activities better, you should also adopt an MFA or multi-factor authentication approach. Multi-factor combines an extra element to make sure you are who you say you are with biometric tools like a fingerprint or facial scan.
Likewise, it uses other types of authentication, including hardware security keys and dedicated apps Google Authenticator which creates unique passcodes through the verified channel of your smartphone.
Finally, be smart with your passwords. No matter what technologies we adopt, passwords will play an important role. For this reason, you need to secure all your accounts with complex, length, and unique passwords that combine numbers, letters, special characters, upper and lowercase letters.
To help you manage them, consider using a password manager. Password managers are secure digital vaults that allow you to generate, store, and manage complex passwords.
2FA is a good start on the road to security. Now finish the job and add these tools and tips into your everyday device usage.