The future of password security: One-time passwords and the next wave

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One-time passwords (OTPs) are everywhere in today’s digital world. They protect us and grant us access to platforms we access everyday, such as online banking, social media, e-commerce, health insurance, retirement funds, investment accounts, and more.

An OTP is a system-generated code typically made up of digits or letters or a combination thereof. OTPs are typically used in conjunction with conventional, long-lasting passwords. An OTP is only good for a single login session. OTPs were first introduced to enable a risk-based authentication approach. When websites would assess a login attempt as risky, they might then choose to step-up the user-authentication process from only login credentials to login credentials plus an OTP. OTPs are not easy to guess but they are vulnerable to being socially engineered by fraudsters attempting to log in to a genuine user’s account and create some damage. Some systems add an extra layer of protection by requiring users to have something physical, such as a specific gadget, and/or to enter a secret PIN before allowing them to log in with their OTP. While adding OTPs as an authentication measure creates a more secure login process than requiring a password alone, they unfortunately remain exploitable.



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The future of password security: One-time passwords and the next wave

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