Two-Factor SMS Authentication vs CAPTCHA

Ever since 2014, the so-called "Year of the Data Breach," online security has become a major priority for consumers around the world. As one major company after another fell victim to cybercrime, people began to question just how safe the personal information they had stored online could be.

In this new data breach era, with companies hard pressed to regain their customers' shaken trust, offering two-factor authentication is a simple, yet powerful way to show consumers your commitment to their security.

How Does a CAPTCHA Work? 

"Humans, but not computers, can identify the letters in a CAPTCHA."

Traditionally, websites have used CAPTCHA systems to verify that login attempts were coming from humans, not bots. These work by presenting site visitors a piece of text that has been distorted such that humans, but not computers, can identify the letters. Implemented correctly, this process can effectively keep programmed bots from hacking into users' accounts. However, it cannot offer consumers much more protection than that.

Using an SMS PIN for two-factor authentication, on the other hand, not only stops bots from logging into customer accounts, but can protect customers from a litany of other security threats, all while giving website visitors a more enjoyable user experience.

The Value of the Second Factor

When users enters their login credentials correctly, they are sent a single-use PIN to the phone number they have stored on file. When they receive the SMS just a moment later, they simply enter the PIN on the website to confirm their identity.

By involving another piece of hardware (the users' cell phone), gaining unauthorized access to an account suddenly becomes much more difficult. Without it, fraudsters need only to gain access to the user's login credentials to reveal the CAPTCHA and unlock their account, while two-factor authentication requires that they possess their victims' cell phone as well. This can deter remote hacking, as well as protect victims of identity theft from having their accounts compromised.

An SMS PIN arrives on a user's smartphone moments after logging in. An SMS PIN arrives on a user's smartphone moments after logging in.

Optimized for Customer Experience

In addition to its security, SMS-based two-factor authentication can improve a site's user experience. Optimized for desktop, CAPTCHAs often fail to load or are not supported by the operating system on mobile websites and apps. With mobile browsing becoming increasingly ubiquitous, it is crucial for developers to use an authentication system that won't send mobile visitors off the site in frustration.

Plus, SMS PINs are completely customizable, allowing companies to use their authentication message as an additional touch point in developing a relationship with their site visitors. SwiftSMS Gateway's SMS API services are especially easy-to-use, making it easier than ever to leverage the authentication PINs in your mobile app development and website login routines as subtle pieces of a seamless customer experience.