Companies across all industries face a continuing struggle in providing safe access to applications and cloud-based technologies. Therefore, in order to protect user information and sensitive corporate data, users must be equipped with basic but dependable security. Utilizing one-time passwords, or OTPs, is one way technology organizations have fended off cyberattacks such as password theft and others. Also, OTP is a type of multi-factor authentication (MFA) that is intended to make it far more difficult for hackers to access protected information.
One-time passwords are, in fact, a common type of authentication used to increase security in a variety of online services and transactions. An OTP, as the name suggests, is a password that is only valid for a single usage or session before it expires. One-time passwords are used as an additional layer of security over the usual login and password-based authentication to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data or services. They can be sent to consumers through a variety of methods, including SMS, mobile apps, or email, and are generated using a shared secret key and a certain algorithm. OTPs are regarded as a reliable security solution against a variety of online risks like phishing attempts, identity theft, and other types of cybercrime because of their temporary nature.
OTPs come in a variety of forms, each with particular advantages and disadvantages. This article will delve into these types, helping you determine which one is the most effective for your business.
Time-Based One-Time Passwords (TOTP)
Time-based one-time passwords, often known as TOTPs, are a type of OTP that creates a different password for each authentication session using a time-based algorithm. TOTPs are frequently used in two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication systems, where users must input their login, password, and a TOTP-generated code to access a service or complete a transaction.
This type of one-time passwords are created by applying a cryptographic hash function to a shared secret key and the current time, often at intervals of 30 or 60 seconds, to create a unique password. In order to access your application, you will need to obtain a new password, even if you have not used your current one during that window yet. This means that TOTPs are only valid for a short period and cannot be used more than once, adding an extra measure of protection against unauthorized access.
Event-Based One-Time Passwords (HOTP)
Another type of OTP is event-based one-time passwords, or HOTPs, which create a different password for each login session using a counter-based method. Similar to time-based ones, HOTPs are frequently utilized in two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication systems to offer an extra level of protection on top of the usual login and password-based verification.
However, in contrast to TOTPs, HOTPs are created based on a counter that is increased with each authentication attempt. The movement factor is increased based on a counter each time the HOTP is requested and validated. The generated code is valid until you actively request another one and the authentication server verifies it. Each time the code is verified and a user is granted access, the OTP generator and the server are brought into sync. As a result, HOTPs offer an additional layer of protection against replay attacks since they can only be used once for an authentication attempt.
Event-based one-time passwords are commonly used in hardware tokens or smartphone applications, like Google Authenticator, to verify users for internet services and transactions.
SMS-Based One-Time Passwords
Another type of one-time passwords are SMS-based OTPs, in which passwords are sent to a user’s mobile phone through SMS. The user receives a special password via SMS after providing their username and password, which they use to complete the login or transaction.
Originally, the majority of OTPs were actually transmitted as SMS texts. An SMS OTP is delivered to the cellphone number associated with the user’s account once the user has started his login attempt and entered the right username and password. The user then completes the authentication procedure by entering the code that was displayed on the phone at the login screen.
As a matter of face, a lot of online services and transactions now employ SMS-based OTPs as a quick and simple approach to add an additional layer of protection on top of the standard authentication procedures. However, the fact that they are susceptible to interception or phishing attacks, which might compromise the user’s credentials, makes this sort of one-time passwords less secure than TOTPs or HOTPs. Users may experience inconvenience if SMS-based OTPs are lost or delayed as a result of network problems or other circumstances. But then, given that they are simple and easy to use, SMS-based one-time passwords continue to be a popular type of OTP in many online services.
Biometric-Based One-Time Passwords (B-OTP)
One-time passwords that are generated for each authentication session using biometric information, such as fingerprints or facial recognition, are known as biometric-based one-time passwords, or B-OTPs. Because they are based on physical characteristics that are difficult to copy or steal, biometric-based OTPs are more secure than the traditional types
One-time passwords of this type are frequently generated using specialized hardware or software that records the user’s biometric information and transforms it into a unique password. The login or transaction is then completed using this password, adding an extra layer of protection on top of conventional authentication procedures.
Biometric-based one-time passwords are commonly utilized in high-security settings like banking and government agencies, where safeguarding sensitive information is paramount. However, the use of this type of OTPs is constrained by the need for specific hardware and software, which can be expensive and may not be readily accessible.
Software-Based One-Time Passwords (S-OTP)
Another type of one-time passwords are software-based OTPs, which rely on software to create special passwords for each authentication session. S-OTPs are often created by desktop or mobile applications that employ an algorithm to create a special password based on a shared secret key and additional variables like time or counter numbers.
S-OTPs are commonly utilized as a quick and simple approach to provide an additional layer of protection beyond conventional authentication techniques in many online services and transactions. Because they are immune to phishing and interception, S-OTPs are typically thought to be more secure than SMS-based OTPs. S-OTPs can also be created offline, which increases their dependability in circumstances with poor network connectivity.
Despite the advantages of S-OTPs, this type may still be susceptible to some sorts of attacks, such as malware or keylogging, which can compromise the user’s credentials. Therefore, while using S-OTPs for authentication, users should take the necessary precautions, such as installing reliable software and keeping their devices safe.
One-time passwords are an effective strategy for boosting online security, given the fact that they provide an additional layer of security on top of those traditional authentication procedures. Typically, they are generated with the help of shared secret keys and particular algorithms, yielding a different password for every authentication session. OTPs come in a variety of forms, each with unique benefits and limitations. They provide a dependable and efficient solution to safeguard your data and thwart illegal access, whether you are using online banking, sending a payment, or viewing sensitive information. Lastly, OTPs are likely to be used increasingly more frequently as technology develops because they are such an important tool for preserving online security.