In our current digital age, safeguarding online account credentials is a critical cybersecurity measure for individual end users and businesses alike. If you want to improve your security posture and protect your sensitive data from malicious hackers, it's essential to familiarize yourself with two-step and two-factor authentication. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are actually notable differences between them.
A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (usually a password), as well as a second login credential that is sent to the user. For example, you may enter a password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use security code as the second step.
Simply put, two-step authentication adds an extra step in the verification process, making it more secure than single-step authentication (e.g. using a password only). However, if an organization is compromised by hackers, this extra measure likely won't be enough to prevent them from accessing your systems and data.
On the other hand, two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication) is significantly more secure, since it requires an extra user-specific variable to complete the authentication process. Perhaps the most ubiquitous 2FA process is withdrawing money from a bank machine: In order to authenticate the user's identity, the individual must possess the correct bank card and know the correct PIN number. Other examples of 2FA include using a password in conjunction with a finger print or passcode generated by an authenticator app.
The difference between the two
In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but two-step authentication does not always require two types of user-specific information to access an account. With this information in mind, it's critical to ensure that you are using the most secure type of authentication to keep your company and customer information safe. Want to learn more about the tools and best practices that can help protect your technology and information assets from hackers' prying eyes? Contact our experts today.