Two-factor authentication is often pushed as a means to secure online accounts. And, for the simple reason that it adds an extra security layer to your account. In simple words, even if someone got access to your account’s passwords, they would still have to bypass that extra layer of security – a code if you will that is sent to you via text (or phone call or via an authenticator like Google Authenticator). But, turns out hackers seem to have found a way to intrude that extra layer of security too. So, now the question arises – Is two-factor authentication safe? We’ll discuss how safe two-factor authentication is and a lot more that might help strengthen your guard up against cybercriminals and their vicious attacks. So, read on.
How Can A Hacker Bypass Two-Factor Authentication?
We’ll begin with some of the most latest attacks through which hackers were able to invade the two-factor authentication and then we’ll look at more such ways –
SIM Swapping is an attack in which a hacker can impersonate you and then he convinces an employee at a carrier to switch the phone service that you have to that of a carrier. Once that happens, the hacker has access to all your messages. Do have a look at two of these instances –
The phone number associated with the account was compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider. This allowed an unauthorized person to compose and send tweets via text message from the phone number. That issue is now resolved.
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) August 31, 2019
In another instance, a hacker was able to hack into a user’s text for just a matter of USD 16. Here the case was different from regular SIM swapping. Instead, the hacker utilized a service that is intended to help businesses do mass messaging and SMS marketing. These are the whereabouts of the case.
Here broadly, there are two situations. In the first situation, the hacker is aware of your username and password. This means you still have that third layer of security to protect yourself. In that case, the hacker would send an alarming message that your user account has been accessed by a suspicious IP, and then further, you will be asked to reply with a code sent to your mobile number. That’s one way of getting to bypass two-factor authentication.
In a second way, the hacker might send you a phishing mail or rope you in a legit-looking website. Once you log-in on this website, the hacker gets access to your credentials which he then uses on a real website, after which the real website sends you a code. Once you enter the code on the fake website, the hacker can bypass the two-factor authentication.
Now, that we have stated the problem, let’s have a look at some of the probable ways to prevent ourselves. Read on!
Is Two Factor Authentication Safe? Add An Extra Layer Of Protection Too
Kudos if you have enabled two-factor authentication, but consider arming yourself with options the likes of which are mentioned below –
You should invest in a quality VPN that can encrypt data traffic and even helps in securing browsing sessions. It is even able to evade session hijacking and phishing attacks as well. Here are some of the best VPNs available. In any case, if the 2-factor authentication has been invaded because of some social engineering attack, a VPN will for sure act as a guard against it.
Looking for a VPN for your PC, you can consider investing in Systweak VPN. Here are some of the features –
- 4500+ servers across 200+ locations spread in 53+ countries
- AES-256 military-grade security
- Kill switch that drops the connection as soon as VPN drops
- No DNS leaks
- IKev2 and Open VPN protocols
- 30 days money-back guarantee
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Operating System: Windows 10/8.1/8/7
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Physical Security Keys
If you can get your hands on physical security keys, there’s nothing like it. These prove to be a more secure second step. Hardware-based keys have several passwords stored in them and as one of their features are also able to easily discern between real and fake websites. They are positively more secure and stronger than software or SMS-based options.
Use A Password Manager
Consider this – your smartphone is lost or stolen and now it is in the hands of a probable hacker, who can easily look into the code being sent. Scary, right?
If you use a password manager like LastPass, each time it will generate a very strong password because of which the hacker will have a hard time bypassing, say, your authenticator app. Secondly, a password manager like LastPass eliminates the need to manually typing in the password.
Don’t Ever Give Into Phishing Mails
Especially the ones that ask you to furnish codes in the mail. Whether you are an employee at an organization or an individual, you must make yourself aware of how you can save yourself from phishing attacks. If there is a mail that looks suspicious or a mail that has come from a source that you don’t know, better not to click on it.
It’s time to up your security game a notch further even if you have enabled two-factor authentication. And, in that mission, we earnestly hope that the above ways will help you do just that. Do let us know in the comments section if there’s an even stronger way to combat hackers who have even not left two-factor authentication safe. If you found the information helpful, do share it with people you care about. And, to stay updated on more such interesting tech-stuff, follow us around on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flipboard, Tumblr, Instagram, and Linkedin.