What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a specific type of multi-factor authentication (MFA) that strengthens access security by requiring two methods (also referred to as authentication factors) to verify your identity. These factors can include something you know - like a username and password - plus something you have - like a smartphone app - to approve authentication requests.
2FA protects against phishing, social engineering and password brute-force attacks and secures your logins from attackers exploiting weak or stolen credentials.
Why is 2FA Important?
2FA is the foundational element of a zero trust security model. In order to protect sensitive data, you must verify that the users trying to access that data are who they say they are. 2FA is an effective way to protect against many security threats that target user passwords and accounts, such as phishing, brute-force attacks, credential exploitation and more.
Let’s say you use a username and password to complete primary authentication to an application. That information is sent over the Internet (your primary network). You’ll want to use a different (out-of-band) channel to complete your second factor. An example would be sending you an email with a code that you would then need to enter before you can login.
So why does it matter? If a remote attacker is able to tap into your computer via your Internet connection, they can steal your password, and your second form of authentication — if both are delivered over the same channel.
Without your physical device, remote attackers can’t pretend to be you in order to gain unauthorized access to corporate networks, cloud storage, financial information, etc. stored in applications.
By integrating two-factor authentication with your applications, attackers are unable to access your accounts without possessing your physical device needed to complete the second factor.