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Singapore: Ensuring Robust Security with Multi-Factor Authentication

Passwords alone are no longer sufficient to protect users’ online accounts as cyberattacks become more frequent and advanced, hence, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is necessary to reduce the risk of unauthorised access to online accounts.

There are different types of MFA that use what the user has and who the user is. SMS-based Authentication, Biometrics Authentication, and Application-based Authentication are the most common types.

When a user turns on SMS-based authentication, they register a mobile number that is linked to their account. Most SMS-based OTPs are only good for a certain amount of time, usually 3 minutes, after which they can’t be used again.

When a user intends to log in to their account, the system produces an OTP and sends it to the registered phone number via SMS. The system then checks the OTP, and if they match, it lets the person into their account.

When a user turns on biometric authentication, they will have to enrol their biometric data into the system by capturing and storing their unique physical or behavioural traits in a digital format. This information can come from things like fingerprint scans, facial recognition, iris recognition, voice recognition, and more.

Besides, when a user attempts to log in to their account, their biometric data is used to verify the user’s identity by comparing the data to a list of existing users whose biometric data has been registered in the system. The user is granted access if the biometric data matches.

Similarly, when a user enables 2FA with an authenticator app on their account, they will typically be asked to scan a QR code or enter a secret key provided by the service into their authenticator app.

Once the secret key is entered, the authenticator app generates a unique OTP using an algorithm such as Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) or HMAC-based One-Time Password (HOTP) that is valid for a specific time window, typically 30 seconds, before changing. To generate the OTP, the algorithm considers the secret key known only to the user and the app, as well as the current time.

After their regular password has been validated, the user will be prompted to enter the OTP generated by their authenticator app when attempting to log in to their account. The service will then compare the user’s input to that generated by the authenticator app. If the OTPs match, the user is granted account access.

Likewise, SMS-based 2FA works by texting an OTP to a user’s mobile phone. To complete the authentication process, the user must enter this OTP into the online service. While SMS-based 2FA provides an additional authentication method, it is not as secure as authenticator apps or biometrics because SMS can be compromised:

  • SIM Swapping: Threat actors can use this technique to acquire phone numbers via data leaks, public records, or social engineering, then bribe or trick a service provider employee into porting the number to a duplicate SIM card under their control. This gives them the ability to intercept users’ SMS verification OTPs and gain unauthorised access to associated online accounts.
  • SMS Phishing: Using SMS Phishing (Smishing), threat actors can intercept users’ SMS messages and steal verification OTP to gain access to their various online accounts.

Thus, authenticator apps and biometrics offer a higher level of security compared to other authentication methods like SMS-based 2FA. Users are advised to practice good cyber hygiene by using a strong password and selecting the most secure 2FA method to protect their online accounts.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.