You’re probably familiar with two-factor authentication (2FA), a security method that uses two different authentication methods at the same time, such as entering a password and then receiving a SMS code on your phone, to verify your identity. It’s a robust security tool that foils attackers who may have got hold of your passwords. 

This is the most common 2FA method but biometric 2FA can also be easy to use if you have devices that provide it.  The user first enters a password or passcode, then uses a physical confirmation of their identity. This could be a thumbprint, a retinal scan, or even facial or voice recognition.

Biometric certainly has advantages because these physical identifiers are part of you. And it also has an edge over SMS/text because these messages can be intercepted, for instance, if you enter it into a fake website.

However, there is a third 2FA option which is steadily gaining ground and this is hardware-based authentication.
  • In hardware-based authentication systems, you have a physical device that provides a rotating series of passcodes to verify identification.
  • Some of the most secure 2FA systems in use are hardware-based.  
  • The advantage is that only you can be in control of the device and therefore only you have access to the system/computer you are protecting.
These hardware-based systems usually come as USB tokens, one-time password key fobs and credit-card shaped smart cards.
  • You can think of these hardware authenticators like bank ATM machines. A user must possess a valid ATM card to withdraw cash or other ATM machine services and you can’t get access to the machine without the card, even when you know the correct numerical password.
For most general home users a USB token is an ideal choice given that computers generally have at least two USB ports.
  • You plug it into your device and set it up within a minute by creating a user name and password.
  • When you want to you want to use your computer you insert the token.
  • On your screen you enter your user name and password.
  • In the background the token and token server communicate by trading unique numbers to establish your identity.
  • You access your computer.
  • The process takes seconds.
There are plenty of USB 2FA tokens to choose from. When supplemented with multi award-winning BullGuard protection you’ll have seriously robust protection for your online life.

The most basic cost from around £10 and you can go up to £70 for slick swivel designs with lots of choices between these two prices.  You can attach it to a key chain so you don’t lose it. The only downside to these nifty little security devices is that they can be lost, and you don’t want that.