What is Two Factor Authentication
The traditional mode of logging in to an account involves entering a username and password. This is referred to as single-factor authentication. Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is a verification process that adds another level of authentication by mandating the user to key at least two out of the three different types of credentials before allowing access to an account. Usually these two factors address “what the users have” and “what the users know”. Broadly they can be outlined as follows:
- Something known to the user like a Personal Identification Number (PIN), password, or a design
- Something physical that the user carries with him/her like a hardware token (the ubiquitous RSA tokens used by most IT workers), an ATM card or phone
- Some other biometric like a fingerprint or voice recognition
The simplest example of 2FA could be the use of a credit or debit card. For successful transaction, we have to swipe the card as well as enter the associated PIN code. Only then the transaction is confirmed. Anyone with just a credit card or a password cannot make the transaction. 2FA is now moving to the mobile domain as many new authentication solutions have started using SMS messages or mobile applications containing a cryptographic secret.