OTPs are one-time passwords that are only valid for a single login session and for a limited time. The open standard OATH HOTP (event-based) or TOTP (time-based) algorithm is used to generate OTPs.
OTPs can be generated using a variety of user authenticators, or they can be generated separately and sent to users via SMS, IVR, email, or other means.
What is OTP Authentication?
Authentication is the process of determining whether or not someone or something is who or what they claim to be. Authentication technology controls system access by determining whether a user's credentials match those in a database of authorized users or a data authentication server. Authentication ensures secure systems, secure processes, and enterprise information security in this way.
While logging into your email client, social media, or online banking account, you may have noticed the abbreviation "OTP." The phrase means "one-time password."
If you're logging into an account after a long absence, or if you're using an unfamiliar device, an OTP may be sent to your mobile phone number or email address. The OTP is a step in the two-factor authentication process.
Maintain a competitive advantage by implementing strong authentication processes and increasing security measures with the Mtalkz OTP authenticator service. Secure online transactions and protect user accounts with an OTP generated by our AES 256 secure algorithm. OTPs are an authentication technique that is commonly used as a feature of two-factor identification (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help balance these requirements. OTPs are one-time passwords that are only valid for a single sign-in session during a specified period.
We live in a digital world where online transactions are no longer a trend, but rather a necessity. Nowadays, everyone uses online services in some way to purchase various products and services. An OTP is a secure mode of authentication used to verify users before completing a transaction or running a session in an app/website. The OTP is generated by a 2FA security token and delivered via SMS. For security reasons, the OTP is designed in such a way that it is only valid for a limited time; after that time, users must obtain a new OTP.
Also Read | What is Session Hijacking & How to Prevent it?
How does OTP Authentication Work?
A one-time password (OTP) is sent to the person's mobile device who wishes to access his or her digital account. It aids in the verification of his/her identity and should be used within a specific time frame. When the OTP is used to gain access to the account, its validity expires. Because the password (usually a four or six-digit numerical PIN code) can only be entered once, it is less risky than static passwords that can be used a second time.
Using an OTP can not only save you money and headaches, but it can also give your clients peace of mind, knowing that their credentials are secure. If a customer's account information is compromised, the authorization process will fail unless the correct OTP is sent to his or her registered mobile account. If a customer enters the incorrect OTP, they can always request a new code (up to three times) to gain account access.
Two-factor authentication works in the same way that your current login procedure does. The only difference is that you must provide additional information in addition to your username and password. This information could be in the form of an OTP or a code in an app like Google Authenticator.
This additional layer of security, known as two-factor authentication, establishes a path that begins with the validation of credentials (username/email and password) and ends with the creation and validation of the One Time Password (OTP). The OTP is a numeric code that is generated at random and uniquely during each authentication event. This adds an extra layer of security because the password generated is a new set of digits each time an authentication attempt is made, and it has the added benefit of being unpredictable for the next created session.
The following are the two primary methods for delivering the OTP:
Methods for OTP Delivery
Based on SMS:
This is extremely simple. It is the standard procedure for sending the OTP via text message after successful regular authentication. In this case, the OTP is generated on the server and sent to the authenticator via text message. It is the most commonly encountered method of OTP delivery across services.
Based on the application:
This method of OTP generation is performed on the user's end by scanning a QR code on the screen with a smartphone application. The application is in charge of the unique OTP digits. When compared to SMS-based delivery, this reduces both the wait time for the OTP and the security risk.
The Time Based One Time Password (TOTP), which is a Time Synchronized OTP, is the most commonly used method for generating OTP as defined by The Initiative For Open Authentication (OATH). In these OTP systems, time is the most important factor in generating a unique password.
The password is generated using the current time and includes a secret key. The Time-Based OTP Algorithm (TOTP), for example, is an example of this OTP generation:
- The secret key is generated by the backend server.
- The server and the service that generates the OTP share a secret key.
- Using the obtained secret key and time, a hash-based message authentication code (HMAC) is generated. This is accomplished through the use of the cryptographic SHA-1 algorithm. Because both the server and the device requesting the OTP have access to time, which is dynamic, it is used as a parameter in the algorithm.
- The generated code is 20 bytes long, so it is truncated to the desired length for the user to enter. Dynamic truncation is used in this case. Each character in the 20-byte code "0215a7d8c15b492e21116482b6d34fc4e1a9f6ba" takes up four bits. The entire string is represented by 20 individual one-byte strings.
Also Read | What is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack?
Advantages of OTP Authentication:
Some of the biggest benefits of using OTP Authentication are as follows:
Safe from re-attacks.
The main advantage of OTPs over standalone passwords is that they are immune to replay attacks. In other words, an adversary who captures your OTP through deception cannot reapply it because it is no longer valid for future logins or sessions.
Allows you to perform multiple tasks.
OTP allows you to perform at least two tasks at the same time. It aids in determining whether a user is genuine and reduces fraud. Also, don't overlook analytics. Because most businesses are based on metrics, the more accurate the information, the more accurate the analytics, and, as a result, the more accurate the results.
A shorter customer journey is the second task that OTP can solve. The truth is that users frequently forget their passwords. If the user does it, there is always the possibility that he will not return.
Allows you to protect your emails.
OTPs are typically delivered to mobile devices via SMS. This means you don't need to have email access. As a result, you should avoid accessing your email account on public computers or while connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot.
Convenient to use.
The majority of people own a mobile phone, and SMS functionality is available on all devices. Because SMS is so common, one-time passwords are simple to use. This is also advantageous for businesses that provide OTPs because end users are already familiar with their phones and do not require another device to receive the code.
As a result, OTPs enable businesses to improve the user experience while also lowering operational costs.
Disadvantages of OTP Authentication:
As with every system, some issues can arise. Some of the main disadvantages of OTP Authentication can be seen below:
Factors can be misplaced.
It is not guaranteed that your authentication factors will be available when you require them. Typically, you are locked out of your account after making a single error.
You won't be able to get your SMS codes as the second authentication factor if you lose power or your phone is damaged by water. Relying on a USB key as a backup is also risky. It is easily misplaced or accidentally runs through the washing machine.
If you rely on factors such as PINs, there is always the possibility that you will forget them. Accidents can result in the loss of biometric factors such as eyes and fingers.
Low Level of Security.
A Second Factor Authentication Method with a Low Level of Security. Many people believe that SMS OTP is a second-factor authentication method. However, because you are simply receiving a message on your phone and not carrying it, it is considered a two-step verification process. This message is easily intercepted and copied by malware on your device.
So, is it a second-factor authentication method? No, not always.
Open Networks are un-secure.
You might like the idea of connecting to your mobile device via an open network. What you don't realize is that open or unsecured networks are a haven for hackers, also known as Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
Over such open networks, they can easily install malicious software on your phone, and as soon as you connect your phone to the network, you are presented with a task before you can access it. As a result, both your phone and all of the data on it are at risk.
The SMS OTP message you receive on your phone is nothing more than a text message. It goes through several channels before reaching you. If any of these channels has lax security, the data could end up in the wrong hands. There have been reports of user SIMs being blocked and new ones being obtained by hackers through devious means, granting them unlimited access to the OTP received on your registered mobile.
In the end, it can be seen that, when people are authenticating from so many different places on so many different devices, it's critical to provide more than one path to OTP authentication. With a variety of OTP authenticators to choose from, you can provide a convenient, secure authentication experience that addresses a wide range of user preferences and organizational requirements.
When considering the usage, benefits, and drawbacks of OTPs, every user can improve account security by using a unique password for every login. You can prevent threat actors from spoofing your account credentials as long as the provider uses time-based synchronization and you have your mobile or OPT hardware with you. You also avoid using public computers, which may be infected with keystroke loggers and other token-capture software or hardware.