Times of crisis are often times where we can become lax with certain issues because there is something more pressing to worry about. But security should never take a back seat even in a crisis because criminals are still going to be targeting you. If anything the attacks have become even more frequent during these turbulent times as they prey upon peoples greatest fears.
Between sms and email scams claiming to have info about the stimulus relief checks scammers have been working hard to take advantage of people during this difficult time. But not everyone is aware that these dangers exist or how they can protect themselves from it.
Multi Factor authentication is a term a lot of us have come to know, it means an added layer of security. We use it on banking apps, and important accounts in order to keep them secure from hackers. But the issue with most software is that hackers are constantly working to exploit it. We’ve seen a rise in the use of SMS to receive authentication codes because that was the most secure way to get into your account. How would hackers be able to get your code and get into your account unless they had your cellphone right?
Wrong. Recently hackers have been tricking carriers into duplicating phone numbers onto a new device in order to receive your messages. It’s called SIM swapping, and all they need is your phone number and the last four digits of your SSN. Banks and big corporations can end up leaking this from time to time, so it isn’t difficult for hackers to gain access to this. This is a weakness in the system itself, and one that is not easy to remedy.
This weakness means that your text messages could be compromised, and you wouldn’t want those codes getting into the wrong hands. So what are your options when emails and text messages can be compromised? Authentication apps.
Authentication apps are not tied to your cellphone or carrier so even if a hacker has your phone number cloned to another phone the codes stay in the app. Another benefit to authentication apps is the short lifespan of these codes they are usually only active for 30 seconds before a new one replaces it, making it that much harder for hackers to gain access.
It’s also faster to get into your accounts in some cases, instead of having to type in a multi digit code a lot of these apps have a quick tap to confirm in order to get you logged in.
You might be thinking that this seems like a hassle, and is multi factor really worth it? It absolutely is. Having only a password to protect your account is the bare minimum you can do, and it doesn’t take much for hackers to get in. A newbie hacker could probably get into an insecure account like this, but it takes more effort to try and crack into an account that uses multi factor. You need the account username, password, and you need to clone their phone number or gain access to their email.
So what are some authenticator apps you should be looking at? Authy is a great one, I use it for several of my accounts and it works really well. Google authenticator and Microsoft authenticator are also good options from reputable companies. If you have the Gmail app on your phone or the Google app for searching you can set it up to receive codes via push notifications without needing to download a separate app.
These authenticator apps are an easy replacement for sms and email verification, plus they are really easy to set up. You can rest assured that your information will be more secure and that even if a hacker clones your phone they won’t be able to get into any of your accounts. These can also be implemented into a lot of business accounts in order to increase safety. Your IT services provider will be able to tell you the best options for your business and the best way to implement it.