Tokenless 2FA Secures Vulnerable Public WiFi
Date: Nov 16, 2015
Guest Post: SecurEnvoy.
WiFi has become a necessity of the digital age, and like everything, everyone loves it even more when it is free. Whether it’s used to access a presentation at a new client meeting, to host a video conference call, or edit and email important documents, public WiFi means nearly anywhere can become an office. Couple this with the fact that there are as many mobile devices on the planet as there are people, and businesses now have the most flexible and tech-saturated workforce in history.
Recent studies have found that 37 per cent of office workers are regularly working remotely two or more days a week.
Hotels, cafés, restaurants, trains and airlines allow visitors to remain online. Flexible working has put demands on employees to be connected to corporate systems for as long as possible – even 24/7. Yet these inviting and convenient free hotspots are plagued with vulnerabilities, leaving huge security implications for both users and businesses.
The belief that employees aren’t capable of being trusted to remain secure at work is outdated and the days of scribbling passwords on Post-it notes are long gone. Yet there is still a need to educate when it comes to public WiFi and it remains one of many cyber threats to corporate systems and information.
Most employees are now well aware of the dangers of bad password management and endpoint security, even if it is on a subconscious level, as they are used to undertaking their banking, shopping and multiple daily social interactions online. Problems arise when they simply don’t know how to remain secure when working and accessing company systems remotely or if they are not provided with an appropriate security method. By logging in to free WiFi networks – often mindlessly – employees are making information susceptible to yet another form of attack.
The emergence of 2FA has allowed businesses to empower their staff when it comes to corporate security, and acts as an extra layer of protection.
2FA requires not only a username and password, but also something that only the user has on them (i.e. a physical token) to generate a one-time passcode (OTP). With digital crime and internet fraud an increasing concern, such methods of authentication have become increasingly prevalent.
However, whilst physical 2FA tokens can be easy to lose and expensive for companies to distribute and maintain, tokenless 2FA solutions just need an existing device, such as a phone or tablet, to provide employees with passcodes via e-mail, SMS or an app. In other words, workers don’t need to worry about carrying around an additional physical token; they can just make use of the devices they already have.
Yet this is not just a convenience issue; this is a security one too. 2FA doesn’t necessarily guarantee bullet-proof security as any manufacturer that creates cryptographic keys, also known as a seed records, must trust that their copy of the keys can’t be accessed by hackers. This is why a zero knowledge foundation is important, as it makes it impossible for malware on a smartphone to capture the seed records because they are split into two parts: one created on the client server and one generated using characteristics of the mobile device.
With the steep growth of remote working and online communication becoming a necessity, using public WiFi is sometimes a temptation employees can’t ignore, however by using tokenless 2FA employees are equipped with a consistent authentication method to remain protected against cybercrime, so that sensitive corporate information is no longer put at risk.