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Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a method of confirming user identity by requiring two verification forms, such as a password and a code sent to their inbox, before granting access to an account to perform certain actions.

In addition to helping prevent identity theft, 2FA protects against phishing attacks and other cybercrime attempts. It’s an effective way for organizations to improve their security infrastructure and protect valuable assets from being compromised by hackers seeking personal information.

SMS-based authentication solutions and authenticator apps are viable options for safeguarding company data or securing transactions. But what would work best for you, and which is better overall?

What is SMS Authentication?

Short message/Messaging Service (SMS) authentication is a type of 2FA that allows users to verify their identities with a one-time passcode (OTP) sent to them via text message, which they have to input next to their password to gain access to an account, service, or platform.

This method is popular due to its straightforward process. SMS-based authentication works offline, making it very easy and convenient to use. However, relying on OTPs alone still poses threats to your cybersecurity.

Some risks to SMS authentication include SIM swapping and hacking, account takeover, and social engineering attacks. As such, it’s crucial to look for robust solutions.

What is App-Based Authentication?

App-based authentication is a technology that works similarly to SMS authentication. It generates codes to input in the login process to access an account, service, or platform successfully. The difference is how they’re delivered.

Unlike SMS-based authentication, where the user receives the code over a mobile network, app-based authentication sends codes directly to the physical device. This means hackers can’t intercept the process and steal the code. With this restraint, users get optimal protection and security against foreign attacks.

Why Authenticator Apps are Better

SMS authentication is the older solution in 2FA. But while it’s more outdated than authenticator apps, SMS is still popular as it provides users seamless and frictionless login experience. Moreover, it’s more secure than passwords alone.However, there are major downsides to this approach that can snowball into big privacy risks. Below are some of the reasons that make SMS authentication less than ideal to safeguard data:

1. No encryption for SMS messages. In this setup, OTPs get sent via a network, which cell providers and the government can monitor. But bad actors can also intercept the code’s transit with the right tools, making people vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

2. Prone to SIM swap scam. With the right persuasion skills, malicious actors can trick telcos into believing that they’re the owner of the user’s number and have the provider link it to their SIM card. When that happens, the hijacker gets full access to all of the users’ messages, including authentication codes.

3. Highly dependent on the device. If a device gets lost or stolen, the owner risks exposing their messages, including logged accounts and apps, to criminals who can exploit the data. Additionally, the owner won’t receive or read the code if the phone runs out of battery power or experiences poor reception.

In the case of app-based authentication, users must download the app onto their phones before they can log in to their network. After, they must scan a QR code or enter a PIN from their device as a key before being allowed access.

This added layer of security to your account also comes with the following benefits:

1. Quick code expiration. Whether you need to enter the passcode or use a one-tap verification step, an authentication app generates a new code every 30–60 seconds. This promises optimal security, as you can be sure the code doesn’t get stored for others to see.

2. Multi-device support. Most app-based authentication allows easy setup and transfer, especially when switching devices. Unlike the SMS approach, this method has multi-device support, as users can link their app login to their email or Google account like they would on other platforms.

3. Fast and reliable. Some authenticator apps don’t require internet and cell coverage to produce a code, which can be an issue for SMS-based systems. There’s also an option to tap in to get verified and authenticated, making the process quick and easy to use.

Still, it’s best to observe proper cybersecurity practices to ensure the data, account, and network are always protected and secured. Be on the lookout for phishing and other cybercrime attacks, and know your organization’s procedures on what to do when bad actors strike.

Elevate Your Security Measures with App-Based Authentication

With how advanced technology has become, user data and privacy are now valuable. Hackers have become smarter about stealing data and curating sophisticated methods to make their attacks more damaging without getting traced. So, it’s up to you to level up ways to secure your accounts. 

For a more robust cybersecurity measure to safeguard your company’s and customers’ data and transactions, consider implementing multi-factor authentication.

Check out Q5id’s Proven Identity Solution to secure your enterprise! Our patented verification process uses multiple biometrics to guard against common and costly forms of cybercrime.

Contact us today to learn more about how our cybersecurity technology works and how it can help protect your brand.

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