The Significance of Two-Factor Authentication Following the iCloud Hack

by | Sep 8, 2014 | Industry News

Recently Victimized Celebrities Like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton Are Shining a Spotlight on the Need for Stronger Authentication, but Will Organizations Respond?

CHICAGO, Sept. 8, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Last week, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton were among the latest hacking victims that resulted from a weak “password, plus answer a simple question” method of online security. The misfortune of these high-profile celebrities has shone a spotlight on two-factor authentication and for good reason.

Mass-market deployment of stronger authentication tools like two-factor authentication boils down to the impact on the user experience. Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to that fact in his statements following the iCloud hack. Security and convenience appear to have an inverse relationship. On the other hand, it used to be difficult to back up the contents of your computer to a remote location. The cloud has made a once difficult task incredibly easy. The industry should respond.

“Complex computing processes have become as easy as using a toaster,” said John Zurawski, vice-president at Authentify. “There are strong security processes that are just as easy and engaging. These celebrity photo hacks might just convince people that employing an ounce of that security process is worth tons of breach recovery effort.”

Leading financial, e-commerce, and web brands have formidable defenses and infrastructure protection internally, and much of what is done to protect the average online user is invisible to them. Two-factor authentication services that employ telephone calls and secure apps as part of the process get the user involved right up front. The legitimate owner of a bank account or cloud storage site typically knows what’s going on with their accounts. If an account owner receives a phone call or a message via a security app indicating an activity they haven’t initiated, the two-factor process offers an opportunity to ensure that activity fails.

Authentify introduced the security world to interactive telephone-based two-factor authentication at the RSA Conference in 2001. At that time, the challenge was to convince information security professionals the process worked and it was in fact a strong security layer. Today, despite the fact that millions of users worldwide encounter Authentify’s services on a daily basis, it took the breaches of recent high profile celebrities to propel two-factor authentication into the mainstream lexicon. “I am confident that the population of folks who have heard of two-factor authentication has exploded,” said Zurawski.

Staffers at Authentify are hopeful this will be a watershed event for strong authentication. “Since Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton became victims of this hack, my daughters have asked, the neighbors have asked and practically everyone I know has asked if authentication services like Authentify’s would have protected their photos,” according to Zurawski. “It’s amazing how much interest there has been.”

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