SMS Verification & 2FA Best Practices

With the increase in cyberattacks and compromised credentials, tools such as SMS verification and two factor authentication reduce the risk of the wrong person logging into your customers’ accounts.

Best practices involve using two-factor authentication (2FA) as a security measure to protect your customers’ data. One of the most popular methods of 2FA includes a one-time password (OTP) which can be communicated through SMS.

While using SMS as a verification tool isn’t always the most cost effective or secure option available, it is one of the most accessible. SMS verification doesn’t require a smartphone or internet access making it available to most of the population.

What is 2FA?

Two factor authentication (or multi factor authentication) is an electronic authentication method in which a user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism.

It’s an effective way to protect your customers from common cyberattacks that target user passwords and accounts, such as phishing, brute-force attacks, credential exploitation and more.

By integrating two-factor authentication with your websites and apps, attackers are unable to access accounts without possessing the customer’s physical device, which tends to be a mobile phone.

What is SMS Verification?

SMS verification allows websites and apps double-check a user’s identity. After entering your username and password, the website or app will send an SMS verification code to your phone, for you to type in. Once the code is entered correctly the user is authorised to log in.

Discussed below are some of the best SMS verification and two factor authentication practices.

Let your customers choose verification method

Reducing customer frustration should be your goal when it comes to verifying a login. Providing customers with multiple methods to verify will ultimately reduce frustrations and allow them to choose the method they’re most comfortable with.

Types of two-factor authentication typically available with online accounts include SMS, phone call or authenticator app.

These channels can also be used in the event of a forgotten password or account recovery.

Validate phone numbers before sending OTPs

Validating a phone number before sending a one-time password (OTP) ensures accuracy and reduces fraudulent sign ups to your services. You should always validate that the phone number is legitimate, and follow up with verification, to ensure that the user has access to the phone number.

Customise verification messages

You may wish to use something other than the standard default verification message. Ensure that the message is concise, easy to read, and that the local language is being used.

The message must state clear instructions customised to your website or platform to minimise any confusion.

Reduce Costs

The cost of sending verification messages should always be considered when implementing an OTP system.

SMS isn’t an inexpensive option. Your SMS should only be one at a time to keep costs at a minimum, ensuring that multiple messages aren’t sent. SMS providers tend to only allow 160 characters for GSM characters and only 70 characters for messages containing any non-GSM characters (such as letters containing fadas or accents).

When a message contains too many characters it breaks the text into multiple messages, sometimes doubling costs. It’s always recommended to construct your message to fit into one SMS.

You should also consider where your customers are located and the local messaging charges for international messages.

Provide Support

Issues may arise from time to time when customers wish to authorise their login. Having a responsive and accessible support platform in place can greatly reduce customer frustration.

Making it as easy and safe as possible for your customers to log in should be your upmost priority.

Are you preparing to alter your SMS or email strategy? If so, contact us today on +353 1 8041298, or click on the link below to be brought to our contact form.


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