The estimated cost of phishing losses around the world has grown to staggering levels. Global cybercrime costs are expected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025; this represents a sharp increase from $3 trillion in 2015. Phishing is a major driver of these costs, accounting for an estimated $2 trillion in losses. 

With theft of username/password credentials on the rise, two-factor authentication has emerged as an effective information security practice worthy of your consideration, especially when it involves text messaging.

Understanding Phishing Attacks

In the current climate of cybersecurity threats, phishing is a risk that can only be prevented to a certain extent. It is more realistic to assume that phishing can and will happen at some point, thus meriting a reactive strategy instead of spending time, money, and effort on preventative strategies. This is part of a philosophy of fostering information security through mitigation rather than prevention; it was first proposed in the early 2000s and has become a new enterprise standard. 

In the case of phishing, which happens to be the most common type of cyber attack, you are better off implementing a 2FA solution to prevent unauthorized access.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), phishing accounted for 22% of all reported cybercrime complaints in 2021. This is followed by ransomware and business email compromise. Phishing is a type of social engineering attack whereby hackers send email or text messages that appear to come from legitimate sources such as banks or credit card companies. 

The messages often direct recipients to click on a link or enter their personal information; if the recipients click on the link or enter their username and password on a web form they assume to be secure, hackers can steal their credentials. Phishing happens so often that it is better to deny hackers access through an additional layer of security, and this is where two-factor authentication (2FA) comes in.

How 2FA Mitigates Phishing and Improves Global Information Security

Let’s say you operate an e-commerce business that you run like a tight ship regarding cyber security. Your cloud hosting plan includes remote managed services, and your staff members are trained to spot phishing attacks. As a responsible business owner, you want to provide your e-commerce customers with data privacy and transaction security, so giving them peace of mind with 2FA makes sense. 

Essentially, 2FA is a security process through which users provide two different authentication factors to verify their identity. The first factor is typically a password; the second is something that the user has, such as a physical token or a code sent to their smartphone. When your customers try to log into the e-commerce accounts they created in your store, they will be asked to provide both of these factors when you implement 2FA. This makes it much more difficult for attackers to access the account, even if they have the user’s password.

Phishing attacks typically rely on attackers tricking users into entering their usernames and passwords on fake websites. If users have enabled 2FA, they must also provide a code from their phone to log in. This code will not be available to the attacker, so they will not be able to gain access to the account. You can implement 2FA today with a text message API, which is the most common and accessible method.

How SMS 2FA Works

With a text message API, your SMS service provider will send a one-time code or password (OTP) to your customer’s phone number when they attempt to log into your e-commerce websites or mobile apps. 

The user must then enter this code to complete the login process. SMS 2FA is a simple and effective way to mitigate phishing because most of these attacks do not involve physically taking smartphones away from victims; moreover, most cybercrime gangs that specialize in phishing do not bother with cloning SIM chips, which means that they will rarely attempt to intercept 2FA text messages.

Implementing 2FA security for your online properties can protect you and your customers from credential theft, and using a text message API to this effect makes perfect sense.