Cybersecurity Blog

How to prevent a two factor authentication compromise – 03/04/20

 

 

This week I posted an article telling the horrific tale of a Mount Royal employee who had their phone number ported to another carrier and their email compromised even though they had two factor authentication enabled on their email account.

How was this possible? The authentication method that they had used was an SMS message sent to their phone.  With this method, who ever has control over the phone number receives the authentication codes. The bad news is, if someone impersonates you and either asks for a new SIM card or moves your number to a different carrier they can get access to your email account.  The good news is, there is a way to stop this.

Instead of using a text message sent to your phone as your second step, use an authenticator app or authenticator key. An authenticator app generates an authentication code using wifi, while an authenticator key must be plugged in or waved near a device for you to login.  In both cases you have to be in physical possession of the second factor to get access to your account. Of course if your phone is stolen or your key is lost, you are locked out.  However you can print off backup codes and have an extra key available in case that happens.

 

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