Everything You Need to Know About Two-Factor Authentication

MENDY NEWMAN on December 15, 2014 | 4833

Two-factor authentication is a security method that helps to ensure that data when accessed remains secure. Ensuring that both sides of a connection are who they “say” they are, it ensures the authenticity of a user before providing access to sensitive information or remote networks. Here’s what you need to know about two-factor authentication, which is rapidly becoming the gold standard for securing remote desktop connections.

Beyond the Standard Login: The Three Types of Authentication Factors

Two-factor authentication adds an extra step to the standard login procedures that most computer users are accustomed to, which is the typical username and password combination. Two-factor authentication requires the user to verify two out of three types of credentials, or factors, before access is granted.

  • Knowledge Factor: Something the user knows by memory, such as a password or personal identification number (PIN),.
  • Possession Factor: Something the user has in his or her possession, such as an ATM card, token, or a key fob used to gain entry to a vehicle. This can also be a code sent via SMS to a user’s mobile device.
  • Inherence Factor: Something inherent about the user, such as a fingerprint, voice print, or retina scan.

The Second Authentication Factor Adds Confidence

Access solutions supporting a second authentication factor adds confidence that the user is, in fact, an authorized user of a secure remote network. While it’s pretty simple for hackers to crack typical username and password combinations, it’s a much more difficult feat to verify two authentication factors and gain unauthorized access to a remote network / computing resources.

Two-Factor Authentication is Not a New Concept

Two-factor authentication isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s been around for years. Most people have gone through a two-factor authentication process, although they likely didn’t realize they were doing so at the time. For example, credit and debit cards make use of two-factor authentication anytime the card is used in a retail location or even online. Having the card in possession is one factor, while knowing the PIN is the second.

In the case of an online purchase, users are generally required to enter the three-digit code found on the back of the card, thereby verifying that the individual attempting to use the card is, in fact, in possession of the physical card. Credit card companies aren’t the only entities benefiting from this added security. Companies like Google, wireless service providers, and banks are implementing two-factor authentication to cut down on fraud and identity theft.

Why Two-Factor Authentication is Critical

The value in using access solutions that support two-factor authentication is that it adds an additional layer of protection should one factor become compromised. In the event that a user’s password is obtained by a hacker, for instance, the remote network is still secure if protected by another factor, such as a security question or SMS code.

The two-factor authentication process isn’t infallible, but the additional layer of protection is highly desirable. This is especially true in the modern landscape, where security breaches and identity theft are all too common. It’s a relatively simple added step that has minimal impact on the user experience in most cases.

For remote desktop connections, it’s too easy for hackers to intercept the data users are sending across the network. The few seconds it takes to complete an extra authentication step is well worth it for the added security provided by two-factor authentication.

Ericom access solutions support integration with RSA® SecurID® and SecurEnvoy® SecureAccess and SecurICE two-factor authentication products.

Author | 127 Blog Posts

Mendy Newman

Mendy is the Head of Solution Management at Ericom for all its products. Mendy's team focuses on delivering implementation and architecture solutions to our customers worldwide. | Ericom Software

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