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Two-factor authentication is now essential to beat cyber criminals.
Instead of relying on a username and password to log-on to a network or access online services, a second separate level of security should be used.
Many online banking customers already use it when they make a payment to someone new by inserting their bank card into a reader which generates unique codes to use when authorising the payment.
The need for strong passwords has been advocated by IT security experts for a long time.
However, the problem is the growth of social media and the rapid expansion of digital commerce making us all much more visible to hackers and increasing the number of passwords we need.
Human nature kicks in and people get lazy by using the same passwords for different accounts. This increases the risks because hackers can quickly narrow down the password possibilities. Numerous combinations can be tested out in minutes.
The only solution is to have a second factor that cyber criminals can never guess. But be careful, not all types of “2FA” are 100 per cent safe. Authentication via a text message, for example, can be intercepted or imitated by hackers.
Gary Jowett, from CNC in Brighton, says: “One highly secure method is to use an app on your smartphone which generates random codes hackers cannot see. Unfortunately, many businesses continue with the standard username and password method perhaps because they haven’t yet been stung by a cyber-attack. Rest assured, if you have poor security you will be targeted. Hackers are always developing more sophisticated ways to attack us and a breach of security can have devastating consequences for your company.”
The alarming lack of interest in two-factor authentication is confirmed by research from Duo Labs which estimated that only 28 per cent of Americans actually use 2FA regularly.
IBM is concerned by such statistics and is advising people to use 2FA even for the most insignificant online activities. IBM’s head of identity and access management claims that all major recent breaches of security around the world would have been prevented by using good quality two-factor authentication.
Gary says: “All businesses should adopt two-factor authentication as soon as possible as it greatly reduces the risk of exposure to a cyber-attack. At the same time, it’s important to review your overall security on a regular basis and refresh the awareness of employees about the correct protocols.”