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Why is the Software Token the best MFA method?

Multi- Factor Authentication

Why is the Software Token the best MFA method?

Phishing and ransomware attacks increased by 11 percent and 6 percent respectively in 2021. Additionally, as per the analysis of breach data, 61 percent of breaches involved credential data. 95 percent of organizations that suffered credential stuffing attacks had between 637 and 3.3 billion malicious login attempts through the year.

Individuals and organizations need to understand that passwords are not the only way to authenticate users. There is a large array of authentication technologies and an even greater range of activities that require authentication methods.

Here we discuss various methods of authentication which are in the market today and also why we prefer software tokens as a Multi-Factor Authentication method?

What Is Authentication?

Authentication is the process of identifying users that request access to a system, network, or device. Access control often determines user identity according to credentials like username and password. The credentials provided are compared to those on a file in a database of the authorized user’s information on a local operating system or within an authentication server and if the data matches, the user is authenticated to the system.

Why Is User Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA) Important?

Understanding user authentication is crucial because it’s a key step in the process that keeps unauthorized users from gaining access to sensitive information.

Cybercriminals can gain access to a system and steal information when user authentication is not secure. The data breaches companies like Spotify, LinkedIn, and Yahoo faced are examples of what happens when organizations fail to secure their user authentication. 

There are several authentication protocols you can implement to prevent yourself from exposing your user data to attackers, including Oauth, OpenID, SAML, and FIDO.

Types of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

1)Software Token

What is Software Token Authentication?

In Software Token authentication, an authenticator app is installed on your smartphone and produces a string of 6-8 digit codes every time the user tries to log in with an MFA-enabled application. They have to put the code generated to access the data or application.

Generally, the authenticator apps work on a shared secret key known by the server and the authenticator app.

The apps support OATH Event-based (HOTP) & Time-based (TOTP). 

Example of free Mobile Authentication app- RCDevs’ OpenOTP Token, Google Authenticator, etc.

Always prefer a software token that has mobile push as it is more user-friendly and secure.

2) Hardware Tokens

What is Hardware Token Authentication?

A standard hardware token is a small device, typically in the general form factor of a credit card or keychain fob. The simplest hardware tokens look identical to a USB flash drive and contain a small amount of storage holding a certificate or unique identifier, and are often called dongles.

Many hardware tokens contain an internal clock that, in combination with the device’s unique identifier, an input PIN or password, and potentially other factors, is used to generate a code, usually output to a display on the token. This code changes on a regular basis, often every 30 seconds or the time you set.

Generally, hardware tokens are OATH Token based on HOTP, TOTP, or OCRA.

To authenticate using a hardware token, click the Enter a Passcode button. Press the button on your hardware token to generate a new passcode, type it into the space provided, and click Login (or type the generated passcode in the “second password” field). 

Example of hardware tokens- RCDevs RC400, RCDevs RC200, Yubico YubiKey

3)Biometrics Authentication

Biometrics authentication devices rely on physical characteristics such as voice, fingerprint, or facial patterns to verify user identity. Biometrics authentication is becoming popular for many purposes, including network logon.

Leveraging on once unique voice for authentication is one of the most secure MFA.

4) Signed Authentication

Created by the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F and FIDO2) is a strong industry standard for two-factor authentication.

FIDO U2F allows online services to augment the security of their existing password infrastructure by adding a strong second factor to user login. The user logs in with a username and password as before. The service can also prompt the user to present a second-factor device (such as a FIDO Security Key) at any time it chooses. The strong second factor allows the service to simplify its passwords (e.g. 4–digit PIN) without compromising security.

During registration and authentication, the user presents the second factor by simply pressing a button on a USB device or tapping over NFC or BLE. The user can use their FIDO U2F device across all online services that support the protocol leveraging built-in support in web browsers.

5) Out of Band and Printed Lists

 This is the traditional method that still exists for a few of us. Receiving OTP via email, in the mailbox, or SMS which is not considered to be highly secured. Some also prefer printed OATH one-time password lists.

Why is the software token the best MFA method?

As for the advantages, there are quite many. Let’s take RCDevs’ OpenOTP Token as an example of a convenient software token for one-time password generation. 6 reasons we prefer software tokens for MFA:

1)Availability

The smartphone is always handy, the applications installed on it, is also available anytime and anywhere.

2)Extra layer of Protection

Token has an extra layer of protection (PIN-code or biometrics), allowing protecting an OTP password generator from unauthorized access in the case your phone for various reasons occurs in the wrong hands.

3)Flexible Configuration

The choice of the password length and algorithm of its generation is something that you can configure as per requirement.

4)Multiple Tokens

You can create many tokens on one device, thus reducing the hassle of keeping track of many devices.

5)Price

Data protection with the help of OpenOTP Software token does not require any expense- the application is absolutely free.

There are versions available both for Android and iOS.

6) Mobile E-Signature

It supports the data signing function (YumiSign), which allows you to click and directly sign with your mobile which also conforms to global contract law.

We do not say software tokens do not have any cons. The major one is the devices, on which we install software tokens, are not completely isolated from external influences. Hence, they can have vulnerabilities but the decision is up to you to decide now.

Each of these multi-factor authentication methods has its own strengths, and some are better suited to certain industries than others. 

It’s important that you consider the security risks facing your organization, and use this information to help you decide the level of MFA needed to protect your network.

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