With the world becoming more digital, everything becomes practical and easier yet less secure. It is proven by the increasing number of cyber-attack. Thus, it is important to add more layers to the security standard. One of them is by using OTP authentication.
OTP authentication is a passcode consisting of unique characters, numbers, alphabets, or a combination of them. Today, many websites and applications ask their user to add more layers in every attempt whether it is for a login session, signature authorization, or transaction using OTP security.
Security Benefits of OTP Authentication
Technology advancement comes together with the reality that our world has become more fragile. Cyber-attack such as phishing, hacking, and unauthorized access threaten users in every situation. User-created passwords are no longer enough to protect users’ sensitive data.
The emergence of one-time passwords (OTP) helps IT businesses and users to secure their data. The use of OTP brings several security benefits such as data protection and fraud enhancement. OTP prevents thieves or hackers from breaking into users' accounts to steal information.
Thus, how secure is one-time password? One-time password safe because they are unpredictable, don’t have to be stored on a computer, are valid only for a single session, and are sent only to the user’s email or phone number by SMS or phone call.
The multiple verification methods causing OTP security are better than traditional passwords. For example, if your traditional password leaks, others can log in to your account and act as you.
Furthermore, they can do anything on your behalf including violation of your account. But, by using OTP, you know when unauthorized attempts take place. It is because you will receive a passcode that you never ask to authorize the attempts.
Moreover, users will also receive a notification message to inform them if they do the action. It is proving that OTP is giving more security to users. Traditional password can easily leak because it is static while OTP changes and expires periodically.
Simplicity and Usability Benefits of OTP Authentication
The primary benefits of the use of OTP are security but another benefit is simplicity and usability. Unlike traditional passwords where the user must create a username and password on their own and routinely change it, OTP needs only the user’s request.
The simplicity of OTP authentication is that users can request OTP anytime through their mobile phone. Once you request, the system will send the passcode through SMS, WhatsApp, email, or phone call. If you do not receive the passcode on time, you can easily request the new one.
OTP can be used in almost every situation. Mostly, OTP is used in the financial or IT industry but other businesses are also applicable for this authentication. Users can use OTP to reset passwords, banking and e-commerce transactions, account login, document approval, and more.
Implementation Considerations for OTP Authentication
Since today’s online businesses apply OTP to enhance security, implementing OTP is unavoidable. Looking back at one-time password benefits, businesses today must adopt this method to prevent their business from cyber-attack.
The prime consideration of using a one-time password is security. Cases that require more security such as password authentication, two-factor authentication (2FA), multi-factor authentication (MFA), sms-based or text message verification, email verification, account recovery, payment confirmation, and document approval.
For example, you need to recover your web account and you forget your login password. All you have to do is to create a new login password by clicking forget my password menu or creating a new password.
This attempt needs to be verified for security reasons. The system needs to know that it is you who attempt. So, an OTP will be sent to your phone for verification purposes.
That is only one example of how OTP is considered important for business today. More importantly in banking and payment. OTP is needed to validate the transaction, especially in online credit card transactions. OTP will only be sent to the credit card holder's phone number.
On the company side, successful deployment and management of OTP authentication depends on several things such as:
1. The Complexity of One-Time Password
The difficulty of an OTP relies on the specific sequence of characters utilized, which may comprise letters, numbers, or both. To ensure security, the OTP should consist of 6 to 10 characters, striking a balance between convenience for the user and resilience against malicious attempts to guess the code.
2. OTP Must Be Recognized Easily
When sending an OTP to a user, it's crucial to emphasize its presence in the message. This can be achieved by placing the OTP in the first line of the message, or if possible, making it bold to draw attention to it.
3. Allowing Users to Retry OTP
Permitting the user to request the system to resend OTP in case of channel or OTP failure. Infrastructure must build a system that allows this attempt to happen for a better user experience.
4. Ultra-Secure Channel
The security of OTP authentication hinges on the safety of your infrastructure and message channel. Without adequate protection, the safety of your OTP cannot be ensured. Therefore, investing in a secure infrastructure channel is paramount to guarantee the safety and integrity of OTP transmission.
5. Reputable Service Provider
Failed OTP attempts can be detrimental to business as users typically take only 8 seconds to abandon a website. Therefore, it's imperative to select a reputable OTP service provider that guarantees reliable delivery and a quick response time to minimize the risk of failed attempts.
Allowing a malicious user to simultaneously send multiple OTP requests for a single account can be costly, particularly for channels where OTPs incur expenses.
Moreover, it can overwhelm the system, leading to unnecessary downtime. To prevent this, a time limit should be implemented between each OTP generated for a single account.
The Future of OTP Authentication
OTP authentication seems to be an option for the security layer until several years to come. It is because one time password security is better than traditional passwords. On the company side, it enhances user experience and protects the server from cyber-attack.
However, the use of OTP is not without challenges. In reality, OTP can be defeated in many ways. OTP indeed adds more layers of security protection but it is also fragile to abuse and attack. Hackers always find ways to break protection systems such as:
- SMS code theft.
- SIM swap
- Email phishing and hijacking.
Although OTP also has its shortcomings, it is still more secure than traditional passwords only. OTP can be made to be more secure by adding other methods of receiving it such as phone push notifications rather than SMS or email notification. Conclusively, OTP authentication is needed by companies and users for better protection as well as security and user experience enhancement.
Protecting your organization's sensitive data and systems from cyberattacks is more important than ever before. One effective way to enhance your security measures is to implement OTP authentication, which adds an extra layer of protection by requiring users to enter a unique, one-time password in addition to their usual login credentials.
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