2FA Immune Phishing Attacks Are on the Rise

2FA Immune Phishing Attacks Are on the Rise

2FA is more secure than single-factor methods only requiring a password, but it's not an impenetrable method.

People are used to two-factor authentication (2FA) security measures that bolster account protection. They require the account owner to provide something they know, as well as something they own.

For example, a person might get a text message containing a code that pops up on their smartphone. The password represents the knowledge aspect, and the code is the possession part.

Then, if a person's password somehow becomes compromised, the thief ideally wouldn't also have the smartphone text message.

That system sounds like a valid one, but experts warn hackers have even found a way to bypass the safeguards 2FA should provide.

A New Kind of Phishing

Nicolas Lidzborski, a security engineering lead at Google, mentioned the company had seen a substantial increase in 2FA phishing attacks. When speaking about the matter at a cybersecurity conference, he clarified that 2FA is more secure than single-factor methods only requiring a password, but it's not an impenetrable method.

How do hackers carry out these attacks? They use so-called "phishing kits" to create fake login pages people go to when they type in the 2FA code. After that, the cybercriminals may have to act quickly.

2FA codes typically only give access within small windows of time. Some are as long as 60 minutes. But, at Google, the codes become inactive in just 30 seconds. Automated platforms can use the 2FA code before it expires, though. If a hacker uses one of those, they could let those tools automatically wreak havoc on a victim by grabbing the information and using it to break into an account.

Like the lottery scammers that get phishing victims to divulge details by presenting them with links that go to phony login screens or forms, the people who orchestrate 2FA attacks may painstakingly create the pages that capture a victim's details, going to substantial lengths to ensure aspects like the font or graphics seem authentic.

Considering that the people received legitimate 2FA codes shortly before typing them in, most individuals wouldn't stop to think about how the forms might be fake. Indeed, this is a relatively new issue that hasn't reached mainstream consciousness yet.

A Security Researcher Makes a Tool to Bypass 2FA

Eventually, people may look back on 2019 as the year when people realized 2FA is not a foolproof method. In early January, news broke about a security researcher who created a penetration testing tool showing the potential ineffectiveness of 2FA. It's a modified reverse proxy that records all a phishing victim's interactions and traffic as they enter details into a login screen.

This example describes the phishing kits explained earlier. But, its creator says it's easier to implement and automate than other available options. If tools like this one become widely available to cybercriminals, it'd potentially become much easier for people to fool phishing victims, despite having limited tech knowledge.

Even worse, the fake forms people enter information into could seem so realistic that it becomes virtually impossible for everyday internet users to detect any oddities about them.

Advancements in 2FA

These developments illustrate why it's time for 2FA to develop beyond the method of text message codes. Fortunately, the evolution is ongoing. Some more advanced forms of 2FA send push notifications to mobile devices.

Additionally, cases exist where the second element if 2FA is not something people have, but something they are. For example, someone might fulfill the latter component of 2FA by pressing on a biometric fingerprint reader embedded in their smartphone.

Once a user interacts with those notifications, access gets granted. This method reportedly doesn't produce anything a hacker could steal. It's convenient for the user, too, because they don't need to type anything in to access the site or service. That's good news, especially since the databases maintained by the third-party companies that verify users' phone numbers and send 2FA text message codes have flaws, too.

One of those companies, called Voxox, had a database vulnerability that exposed at least 26 million text messages to a security researcher who was able to see the outgoing text messages almost in real time. Voxox took the database offline, but the event emphasizes another reason why people shouldn't blindly believe 2FA will protect them from hacks in all cases.

Hackers Continually Seek New Attack Methods

This coverage serves as a reminder that hackers keep pace with security developments and find ways to make them less effective.

Security researchers sometimes find the issues before hackers do, but people need to exercise caution nevertheless and remember how creative hackers are when they trick victims.


  • 12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    Understanding crime statistics in your industry and area is crucial for making important decisions about your security budget. With so much information out there, how can you know which statistics to trust? Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3

  • AC Nio

    AC Nio

    Aiphone, a leading international manufacturer of intercom, access control, and emergency communication products, has introduced the AC Nio, its access control management software, an important addition to its new line of access control solutions. 3