Why SMS is the key for easy-to-use two-factor authentication

OpenMarket – June 6, 2017

Protecting your customers and staff from cyber attacks is a never-ending battle.

It’s been clear for some time now that passwords aren’t going to cut it. They’re easy to compromise – and easy to forget. Then two-factor authentication (2FA) came along and proved there was a better way.

Instead of just relying on something you know (like your password), 2FA combines both something you know (like a PIN number) and something you have (like a fob or key card).

But while 2FA seemed like a great idea in theory, in practice it’s faced the same issue most security practices come up against – a lack of adoption.

The problem lies in the ‘factors’ most enterprises use. If you’re going to rely on something your people have, it better be user-friendly.

And most of the early options have been anything but. Fobs and cards are easy to lose or break, and not everyone’s laptop or smartphone has a biometric scanner.

The result: end users struggle to get to grips with 2FA or attempt to avoid it all together.

What’s needed is a better ‘something’ to have. Fortunately, there is one factor that’s proven effective – the humble mobile phone.

SMS-based two-factor authentication

SMS-based 2FA uses your phone as a second factor, so you don’t need to have a separate dongle to verify yourself.

It trumps conventional 2FA for two important reasons:

  1. It makes life easier for your customers and colleagues
    With SMS-based 2FA, there’s no need for any new technology. The user already has the tools they need to complete the process and, crucially, they know how to use them.
    This means your customers and colleagues enjoy an improved user experience. But it also means your security improves rapidly.
    Most users will be able to pick up SMS-based 2FA immediately, meaning there’s no need for your business to implement a training program. And as the rate of adoption soars, so does the standard of your security.
  2. It’s simpler (and more cost-effective) for your business
    With no new hardware and software to rollout, there’s no need to develop a training or ‘adoption’ program. And as you haven’t had to invest in dongles or fobs, you’ve saved budget.
    From a back-end perspective, implementing this procedure couldn’t be easier. Almost any log-in sequence can incorporate SMS-based 2FA and the workflows that underpin this approach are easy to build and manage.

Better security without the barriers

SMS-based 2FA is easy to implement and can be rolled out to thousands of users rapidly and cost-effectively.

Most importantly, it lets you improve your security without creating barriers for your employees and customers to overcome.

It’s easier to use than old-school 2FA. And so much more secure than passwords.

So, if you’re looking for a more robust alternative to passwords, SMS-based 2FA may be the quickest and easiest route forward for your business.

The secret to rapid 2FA rollout

Remember the workflows we mentioned earlier? Watch our video explanation of how you create these in minutes to build a SMS-based 2FA solution that’s ready-to-use in a matter of days, not months.

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