What Small Businesses Need to Know about Two-Step Verification

Many security breaches occur due to stolen employee login credentials. Employees often use weak passwords, like “password” or “123456,” that other users can easily guess. With the rise of cybercrime targeting small businesses, your organization should be using two-step verification to prevent these potential hacks.

What Is Two-Step Verification?

Millions of people (including me) use two-step verification to log in to websites, especially those that involve personal or business financial transactions, to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing accounts. This process adds protection beyond a username and password combination to ensure that the person logging in is, in fact, the proper user.

It can be easy to impersonate a user if you have the proper username and password, but it’s nearly impossible when two-step verification is required.

How Does It Work?

If it’s your first time accessing a website that requires two-step verification, you will be prompted to provide an additional piece of information beyond your typical username and password, such as a fingerprint scan or a temporary passcode.

The most common way to use two-step verification is with a passcode. In that case, the website will send you a text or email, or will call your phone with a passcode that uses numbers or letters. If you correctly enter the passcode into the site’s login screen, you will be given access into the site.

A passcode is typically available for 10 minutes and then expires. Expiration is a good thing because it reduces the chances for an attacker to break into your email or phone account to retrieve that code. If you don’t enter the code in time, you can easily request another one to be sent to you. Although this two-step verification process involves added effort, it helps ensure that your information is secure from outside hackers.

When it comes to adding two-step verification to your organization’s sites, there are additional options beyond a passcode.

Here are other ways your business can implement two-step verification:

  • Use Biometrics. If your business has a business-banking app, you could require users to enter their usernames and passwords followed by a fingerprint scan to complete the process. If your employees don’t have a fingerprint reader on their work computers or mobile devices, you can buy a decent external reader for around $30 to $50.
  • Use a Security Token. A security token is a small device that plugs into a USB port. If your website recognizes employees’ security tokens, it will send a code to their devices during the login process. But if the device is missing the token, the users won’t gain access into their accounts. This security token protects outside sources from entering your system and obtaining valuable information.
  • Use a Smartphone Authenticator App. An authenticator app works like a security token without the USB device. Sites that use an authenticator app for two-step verification make it really easy to set up – employees can easily open the app, point their devices at a QR code displayed on the site and gain access into the system. Note – some authenticators can be used to access a variety of websites.

In Conclusion

Two-step verification may require a little extra effort on the part of users, but it offers much more security than entering just a username and password. Encourage your employees to use this more secure approach for protecting company online credentials.