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Defining Two-factor Authentication And Its Benefits

By Expert Author: Lee Harrison

Two-factor authentication, also known as tokenless two-factor authentication, is a security method that uses two phases or forms of verification before secured data can be accessed. Its purpose is similar to that of single factor authentication, except for one critical difference. In single factor authentication, there is no need to provide anything other than a username and password. In two-factor authentication, a username and password will be required, plus other information. This is to strengthen security measures and further protect information.

How This Exactly Works

With two-factor authentication, a person keys in a username and password, then more data for identity verification purposes. At this phase, the person may be asked to enter a passmark, usually to affirm that a user-associated image is being shown. Sometimes, a passmark can be a question set by the user himself when he first created his log in details. A common example of this is when an email user loses his password and requests to make a new one. Before the email provider allows a password reset, the person will first be required to answer a security question that he himself created when he set up his account.

Two-Factor Authentication and Offline Applications

Two-factor authentication is also used in various offline applications. A very common example is entering secured premises by providing a numeric code, then going through a biometric test for verifying the identity of the person. This type of verification usually makes use of sensors for fingerprint-scanning. A match between the previously entered passcode, the scanned fingerprint and the fingerprint stored in the database means the person may be admitted into the premises. Aside from fingerprint scanning, the process may also use facial scans, optic scans and voice recognition.

The Important Need for It

With the increasing number of people transacting online, the risks are growing as well. When sending money through an online vendor, for example, both the sender’s and the receiver’s accounts’ security could be compromised. Online payments made through credit cards could also increase security concerns for their owners. Hackers are everywhere today, and they can easily steal bank account or credit card information when no reliable security measures are employed in using them. With hacking comes identity theft, which can have very serious consequences for the victim. Even offline, rising criminality rates have made it all the more important to employ tokenless two-factor authentication techniques for secured areas.

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