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Why your business needs SMS 2FA (2 factor authentication)

In just the first half of 2019, data breaches exposed 4.1B records. With over 68% of senior leaders believing that their cybersecurity risks are increasing, it is inarguable that businesses need to up their game when it comes to protecting their customers with online security.

That’s where 2FA or 2-factor authentication comes in. Also known as multi-factor authentication, it can help your business protect itself as well as prevent criminals from getting easy access to retail accounts, bank details, home addresses and so much more. 

2FA Industry and Business Users

Give your customer an extra layer of security (and peace of mind) by implementing 2FA into your business now.

What is two-factor authentication?

Often, when being granted authority, requesting identity documents such as a passport or birth certificate from the government or purchasing a significant investment, you will be told to present multiple forms of identification to confirm that you are who you are. While one form may be possible to fake, it would be almost inconceivable to produce multiple fake forms of identification.

This is the simple logic behind 2FA options or multi-factor SMS authentication.

Two-factor authentication – or 2FA – adds an extra level of security to your online accounts. You’ve probably experienced it already when logging into a platform online and being pressed to further confirm your identity through email, an automated phone call or SMS. This is to protect your account from attacks by hackers and scammers by requiring additional log-in verification.

How does two-factor SMS authentication work?

It often occurs in multiple steps.

  1. When logging into a platform, system or website online, you will be prompted to input your login, which can be a custom name, email address, phone number and a password. This is the first verification.
MessageMedia's login page used as an example of how 2FA works for a consumer.
In this example, we’re using MessageMedia’s portal to login. Entering in your username and password is the first step.
  1. If entered correctly, you will pass onto the second verification – that is, a further test to confirm your identity. When signing up, you will often choose how you may want to verify:
  • Back-up email address
  • Security code or word
  • Answer a personalized question (What is your mother’s maiden name? What city did you grow up in?)
  • OR your mobile phone number, to which an SMS will be sent with a temporary, unique code
Example of a 2FA SMS sent to your phone to further verify your identity.
Once you’ve passed step 1, an SMS will immediately be sent to your registered mobile phone with a special code to take you through verification step 2.
  1. At MessageMedia, we use our tried and tested technology to send out ‘tokens’ or one-time-passwords (OTP) to users. These maintain the integrity of our network and protect against unauthorized access by unknown users. Depending on your carrier, they can arrive almost immediately. Once you have received this code, you input the request from your platform and are able to sign in. The whole process adds half a minute to your login but a whole lot more security and peace of mind to your customers.
Example of the on-site form where you enter in your 2FA SMS code.
The onsite form where you enter in your 2FA SMS code to verify your identity.

What are the benefits of SMS 2FA

SMS based authentication is often the easiest and fastest for most users.

  • It’s convenient! Thanks to a rise in nomophobia, most people have their phone on them or nearby. In fact, you usually can’t get them away from it.
  • Codes are temporary. Even if a scammer is able to intercept the code, it is likely that the code is a time-based one-off password. A new one will have to be requested should the timer on that password run out. OTPs are also only valid for one log-in session or transaction.
  • Not guessable. Codes may be made up of 6 random numbers or are indecipherable mixes of lower case or capital letters, and numbers.
  • Lockout! After a certain number of unsuccessful attempts, scammers will be locked out of an account, and will be forced to give up or contact the platform in order to proceed or try again. In addition, the real user of the account will be notified one way or another.

It is also one of the safest choices given that other people may have access to your back-up email or know the answer to your personalized questions. It is, however, unlikely that a scammer will have both your phone and password on hand.

How can 2FA benefit your customers and business

2FA Benefits for Customers and Businesses Infographic

Universality and cost-effectiveness. The key benefit of 2FA is the fact that any mobile device can receive an OTP instantaneously once requested, independent of device and operating system. This platform is also very inexpensive to implement and maintain. It is also compatible with a variety of applications, such as VPNs, customized web portals and Citrix.

Build trust and confidence. For years, they’ve been calling it the trust economy. The greatest and most valuable currency you can trade in is trust. The fastest way to breach trust is allowing your users and customers to be compromised. From SSL certificates to 2FA, user confidence is paramount when it comes to doing any kind of business online. 

Ensuring the security of your customer accounts is essential, and it’s up to you to take the steps you need to secure it. User confidence is also essential for retaining customers and gaining new ones. The public must be able to trust your organization, and technologies like 2FA can help instill that confidence.

Customer support and care. If customers are sharing secure information with you, using 2FA ensures that they know your business cares about and is taking extra steps to ensure their security. You are not only protecting their financial details but their personal information too.

Internal productivity. It’s not just for your customers. Using 2FA can also help improve security for your company. Many documents, files, software, passwords and sensitive information are passed constantly within an organization. 

Enabling SMS 2FA can help protect your business from ex-employees or scammers, as well as protect different tiers of authority.

Automation. Similar to our recent customer success story of Port Networks, SMS has proved extremely valuable in reducing internal frictions and inefficiencies for customer support centers. According to Gartner, 20-50% of all IT calls are for password resets. It seems like people just don’t enjoy remembering multiple passwords! 

Compounding that time and effort, Forrester estimated that large organizations can spend up to $1M to handle those resets. Instead of having a customer call-in, have them verify their identity via 2FA. This will allow them to immediately reset their password, which saves you time, money and an IT headache.

Integration. Have an existing 2FA solution? MessageMedia can integrate our OTP feature into your existing 2FA solution. Users without a smartphone can still receive OTPs, which allow them to proceed with important online transactions. 

OTPs of this kind don’t require any additional hardware or downloads from the user. They just need the ability to receive a simple SMS message.

Protection. Security measures like 2FA also help ensure that customer information is not stolen and that your company does not accidentally become subject to blame. No company wants their name associated with leaked or hacked passwords, nor do they want to deal with the legal nightmares and lost profits that accompany an online security breach.

While it may be annoying to enter in an SMS code every time a user wants to log in, using SMS confirmation also means that customers don’t need to rely on a back-up email, app or phone call. They will simply be prompted with unobtrusive text messages and can insert their unique code at their leisure.

Make two-factor authentication work for your business

As cybersecurity risks escalate, you need to do what you can to protect your business and keep up-to-date with easy employable security solutions. 2FA may be the answer for you when protecting your customers, profits, brand and reputation.2FA Call to action graphic build better customer security and trust with 2FA SMS

Contact us to find out how you can deploy SMS-based 2FA in your business today.