Making two-factor authentication more user-friendly through trusted devices

Identifying a trusted device for two-factor authentication

  • A GUID (long string of random characters) stored in a cookie
  • A GUID stored in localstorage
  • The User-Agent header

What is the right policy for two-factor authentication ?

  1. Should I make two-factor authentication optional or required ? Making it required is obviously more secure, but some users can be uncomfortable with it. Note also that the “right” answer for you for this question might be in the middle, by forcing privileged users (administrators) to use 2FA, while making it optional for the other users.
  2. Should I provide 2FA via SMS or application ? If you can afford it (remember that SMS have a cost), I would say both, but note that 2FA via SMS has been proven less secure than 2FA via an application, as SMS can be intercepted, so the most secure way is via an application.
  3. Should I allow users to save trusted devices ? If you require high security, then no (for example, I wouldn’t want my bank website to allow me to do this). If however user-friendliness is more important to you, then you can do it, and save a trusted device for, for example, 30 days.
  4. Should I protect sensitive operations via 2FA ? Unless these sensitive operations need to be performed repetitively, there is no reason not to do this. Make a list of the sensitive operations of your system, and protect them via 2FA.




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Guillaume Viguier-Just

Guillaume Viguier-Just

Développeur web et passionné de finances personnelles

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