Biometrics makes use of parts of the human body to authenticate systems. Two factor authentication solutions use a second factor besides passwords to verify the identity of a user of the system. These two can be used together to provide an even more powerful and easy to implement security system.
Second and Third Factors
It is important to note that the biometrics can be used either as the second factor or the third factor of the system. When used as a 3rd factor, a token may be used in place of as the 2nd factor.
The two factors are sufficient for most small business security applications. Small and medium sized business also needs the system to be simple and unobtrusive, so that people do not have to apply unnecessary effort to access basic resources in the organization.
System Remains Uninterrupted
Hosted two factor authenticated services can either use something you are i.e. biometrics such as finger prints, or something you have; this may include the usual tokens such as smartcards. The main advantage of biometrics as the second factor is that it is difficult to lose it and cannot be stolen unlike the smart cards and mobile phone that are used as security authentication tokens.
The use of finger print and retina scanners has brought down the cost dramatically for companies seeking to use these services. They do not need to buy tokens for every single user of the system. A few biometric readers can save the company a lot of money.
Significant Cost Savings
This also means that the two factor authentication solutions that use these technologies are much easier to deploy. There is also no need to replace stolen cards since people will hardly ever loose their eyes or hands. This leads to cost savings and allows the user’s privileges to use the system without the inconveniences of having to wait for a token to be replaced.
Using hosted two factor authenticated services makes the deployment of the security system even easier to manage. Having a quality cloud solution combined with biometrics increases flexibility of the system and makes it easy to recover in case of downtimes and system failures.
Today, we live in a global market where a business just doesn’t have to deal with local competitors, but also competitors from all over the world. The world of business can get pretty ruthless sometimes, with competitors trying to gain an edge utilizing any means necessary. Data theft is one of the most used ways to defeat a company in the market. Your sensitive business information, if leaked, can go on to mean quite some nasty things. More than often, we have seen businesses having to shut down as a result of data theft. Hence the need to secure your business related data should be one of your prime concerns. Here’s a look into some of the solutions available today.
Two Factor Authentication
This is an authentication process that requires the user, trying to access services on a computer or a network, to provide two out of three factors of authentication. This form of authentication is highly effective against phishing and key logging. Since the user has to present two factors for authentication, it is much more effective than the username/password infrastructure. Hence it would be impossible for anyone to break in with just the knowledge of a user id and pin combination. Token is generally the second factor that has to be presented for authentication, but the latest technology doesn’t even require tokens.
Tokenless Two Factor Authentication
To overcome the limitations of token authentication system, the tokenless authentication was developed. It is easier to deploy and maintain this system. A Smartphone can replace the token and hence provide a highly practical solution. People carry their phones everywhere and hence it would be much easier to implement this security protocol. Look for a security solutions provider who has an SMS system. This way, even Smartphones are not a requirement. Any device that can send an SMS would work for such a setup. Tokenless system is a very effective system that is being used by many organizations all over the world. Search out for a security services provider who can help you install and maintain such innovative solutions for your business.
A lot has been said about mobile phone applications and their benefits, but one platform that has often been ignored is the USSD. USSD stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data and is a standard used on all GSM networks to provide important services to mobile network subscribers. They have several key benefits when used for two factor authentication for mobile.
Adding Layers of Security
One of the key benefits with this system is the added layer of security it can provide. It has been used for mobile payments and to help complete bank transaction through a mobile device. In order to provide secure 2 factor authentication service a one time password is provided through this system.
The USSD works mainly through codes and is an instant service. The subscriber requests a service and it provides a response instantaneously. For 2FA applications a secure password that expires in 30 seconds is sent. In case the password is not entered on time, it becomes invalid. This works better with USSD than with SMS/Text due to the instantaneous nature of the former.
Works on All Platforms
Another unique benefit of USSD when used for secure 2 factor authentication service is that it is cross platform. It can work on virtually any phone whether a Smartphone or the most primitive of mobile phones in the market.
There is no need to install any new software and all that is required is for the subscriber to use an easy to remember 3 or 4 digit number. This means that it is user friendly and can be used with little or no instruction.
Fast and Inexpensive Deployment
USSD is also perfect for two factor authentication for mobile, particularly when the speed of deployment is an issue. This is the fastest and cost effective method, particularly if the speed with which users learn the new system is also put into consideration.
Transferring data on cloud services will dramatically decrease your overhead expenses so why aren’t more companies migrating to this platform? One of the major considerations of cloud is the security aspect. Not too many corporations are willing to risk compromising important data by storing them online. The cautiousness is warranted because of the amount of stolen data over the years. With that said, the technology in securing your data has increased exponentially, with cloud authentication service for example.
What is cloud authentication?
Cloud authentication is a security service offered by third party vendor to address threats that are focused on your cloud-based apps. You might have already availed of this service without realizing it like, for instance, when you are enrolling or transacting through online banking. The beauty of this technology is that it allows authorized users to easily access your account.
Additional security layer
The authentication process involves multi-factor authentication solution for better security. The common layer used is in this case is the 2 Factor Authentication. This is a firewall that requires two or more factors.
The first prompt is a question only the user knows such as the password or PIN, second is something that only the user has such as mobile phone or ATM card and third is something that only the user is such as the fingerprint, for example. With the increased use of mobile phones, there’s also the SMS 2 Factor Authentication to secure mobile data.
No additional infrastructure
When you avail of cloud authentication service, you don’t have to spend for additional infrastructure as the third-party vendor already has that in place. That means no additional costs incurred on your part. And because the technology is already there, adopting it for your own system is seamless and you don’t have to miss any time on your work operations.
If you are dealing with sensitive information in your organization, then implementing a secure 2 factor authentication system is one of the steps you ought to take. Passwords are hardly effective on their own, as users often pick passwords that are vulnerable to dictionary attacks. Implementing this system may prove challenging when it comes to adoption by its users.
Consider the User’s Attitude
One of the problems you may encounter is the transition to a system that requires keying in information. Many users may already be used to either logging the system without keying in passwords or only adding one or two digits into a text box.
The infrastructure used for this form of cloud authentication can be implemented in several ways. One way is to require that the 2FA be only applied for remote workers. Remote workers provide a higher level of risk and are vulnerable to all manner of attacks, though the organizations wireless system.
Limiting its Application
The system may also be implemented by requiring that only the most vulnerable groups such as remote workers and people using the Virtual Private Networks be required to use this form of authentication. The workers on site should however be screened as they go from one room to another.
SMS provide an out of network secure channel for delivering the codes. However, the Smartphone provides more possibilities than SMS 2 Factor authentication, particularly if you are looking to enable the users to avoid keying in a lot of information. Image codes may be entered though simply touching the screen.
How well the system is adopted by the user will depend mainly on its design, against what the user is used to. A good system should not burden the user with codes, particularly if the resources they are trying to access are not vulnerable to attacks. Therefore the key to the adoption of the cloud authentication system lies in its design.
As mobile devices grow in popularity, the true potential of cloud has been revealed. This enables users to have a lot of flexibility in terms running their business at a marginal cost as they no longer need hardware and bulky desktop servers. But security is always the question that bugs most people when they are offered the opportunity to transfer online their important data and files. Cloud authentication is one way to address this problem.
Another level of security
SMS two-factor authentication is a much more secure way to secure your cloud server, as opposed to the token-based authentication which has shown some vulnerability to skilled hackers. But anybody who tells you that they can offer a 100% guarantee is probably lying. Even the Pentagon, with its highest level of security, is hacked every now and then. A breach in security is a combination of a lot of factors, not least of which is someone privy to the information who is willing to sell the secret. Nevertheless, it’s important that you make use of the cloud authentication services in order to provide your data with another layer of security.
Two types of authentication
The cloud authentication password can be sent through the email or the SMS. You might think it’s simple enough but there’s a lot of technology behind that authentication prompt in order to protect online data. The service providers offer server/client protocol to authenticate users trying to log into their accounts.
An example of the cloud authentication process is when you register an email account and you are asked a security question that only you know the answer to. The token authentication or the SMS 2 factor authentication key itself is protected with a personal identification number which makes it harder for other users to log into your account.
Hackers thrive on predictability. When you use a single password for all your accounts such as email, Google+, Facebook, Linkedln or Twitter, you are actually exposing yourself to a lot of risks because hackers can trace the crumbs you leave behind all over the Internet to guess your password. The SMS two-factor authentication will help mitigate these risks.
Who was your first grade teacher? Who was your favourite author growing up? What was the name of your first pet? Quick! If you do forget, there goes your chance of accessing your account. You might consider this a pet peeve but secure two-factor authentication service has been around for a long time. And even if it’s not really tamper-proof (nothing really is sacred for hackers of today), it does give you another layer of security other than your primary password if in case somebody tries to tamper with your account.
You probably vaguely remember a long time ago answering the above questions when you created your email account, and you answered in bemusement without fully grasping the relevance of the questions. Perhaps, you were not entirely true about your answers and years later when you are prompted, you forgot.
But questions are not just involved in the two-factor authentication for mobile, email or social networking sites. They could also involve your PIN number, ATM and in some cases, there are actually apps now for mobile that takes in your fingerprints as the second triggering device in order to access your phone or account.
Not novel concept
A secure two-factor authentication service is not in any way an innovative concept. But they add nothing new to the log-in process except perhaps a minor inconvenience. However, that’s a good trade-off considering the alternative: that you are going to expose your accounts to hackers and identity thieves by taking away the security layer.
So the bottom-line really is, are you willing to risk your security for a minor hassle?
Crux of the matter
But it all goes back to the original premise: will a secure two-factor authentication service protect you? Part of the problem can be traced to the fact that some two-factor authentication or 2FA providers actually serve as phishing sites themselves. That’s why it’s very important to work with a legitimate service provider. A good hacker can always recover your account or obtain your password as well as your 2FA question though malwares or phishing techniques. The idea, however, is to make them second guess and attack somebody else with less than secured account.