Dropbox upgrades security with two-factor authentication
Users who desire a higher level of security can enter a one-time passcode
By Jeremy Kirk | Published: 09:53, 28 August 2012
Dropbox is now offering two-factor authentication, a system that makes it much harder for hackers to capture valid credentials for a person's account.
File-sharing utility Dropbox, one of the most widely used web-based storage services, said last month it planned on introducing two-factor authentication after user names and passwords were stolen from another website and used to access accounts.
While it is relatively easy for hackers to obtain a person's user name and password using malware and social engineering, it is much harder for them to intercept one-time passcodes, although it is possible. The codes, sent by SMS (short message service) or generated by a device, expire quickly.
Related Articles on Techworld
Users will first need to upgrade their client to version 1.5.12. The feature can be turned on through Dropbox's website on the "security" tab in a person's account settings. Users can opt to receive the six-digit code sent by SMS to their mobile phone when a new device is used to access their account.
A valid code can also be obtained by using an application that supports the Time-Based One-Time Password protocol, such as Google Authenticator, Amazon AWS MFA or Authenticator, according to Dropbox. Apple users can opt to generate a code from the terminal application using the OATH tool, Dropbox said.
While setting up two-factor authentication, users get a 16-digit backup code that can be used to unlock their account if they lose their phones and can't obtain codes through SMS or an application.
Dropbox users have reported a few problems on the company's forum, but were generally positive. A Dropbox employee wrote on the forum that since SMS codes expire in about a minute, the company is working to make SMS deliveries faster, as well as adding new carriers.
"In the meantime, if SMS delivery is slow, I recommend using an offline app instead," he said.
Dropbox is also working on a feature for users to "untrust" their current browser or all other browsers, which would mean a code would be required upon the next attempted login. The employee said that "in the meantime, for testing purposes, you can untrust a computer by deleting Dropbox cookies."