comscore 2-step authentication can easily be bypassed: NSA report

2-step authentication can easily be bypassed: NSA report

NSA's report highlights how hackers easily bypass the much-used security system.


Though you are relatively safe with the 2-step verification enabled on your different online accounts, a new report reveals how easy it is for hackers to bypass the system. A new NSA report shows how Russian hackers bypassed the 2-step authentication system during US Presidential elections with one simple trick. Also Read - Beware! Scammers are using Google ads for stealing cryptocurrency

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2-step authentication relies on one simple method — sending the passcode to the user’s mobile handset, which then needs to be entered along with the account’s password. This does seem easy and safe as no one apart from the user has access to the code on the mobile phone. Additionally, the code is sent over SMS so as to protect it better. However, this method was exploited by hackers by not using any fancy methods but simply by asking the user for the code.

Russian hackers would simply set up fake pages of accounts like Gmail and others, creating a front page to the final backend of the same account. When users entered their credentials, they would automatically be able to access the credentials. However, when it came to the verification code, the hackers employed the same technique and once the user entered the code, they had access to it, letting them navigate to the inner pages along with the user — while there was no question or query in the users’ mind regarding the authentication as they were able to load their original accounts. ALSO READ: Fireball adware affects millions of PCs in India: Here s how to check if your system is infected and clean it


Once the account was gained access to, hackers would then email high ranking officials from the same account and use malicious attachments in the email to further infect systems at a higher level. Once election officials opened the documents, their systems would be compromised with hackers having complete control. The information from one compromised account was used to target other local accounts in the area.

The Russian military systems used the spear-heading attack on more than one local constituency to allegedly affect the results of the US elections held last November. However, the NSA maintained that the attack did not have the effect expected on US elections. In the US-Russia war, the NSA has managed to raise questions once again regarding the modern methods used to safeguard content online. While there have been questions raised on the security of the 2-step verification process, before the detailed NSA report, the exact methods to bypassing the system were relatively unknown. ALSO READ: App to use smartphone compass to foil voice hacking

As detailed in a report by The Intercept, “In order to dupe the local officials, the hackers needed access to an election software vendor s internal systems to put together a convincing disguise. So on August 24, 2016, the Russian hackers sent spoofed emails purporting to be from Google to employees of an unnamed U.S. election software company, according to the NSA report. Although the document does not directly identify the company in question, it contains references to a product made by VR Systems, a Florida-based vendor of electronic voting services and equipment whose products are used in eight states.”

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  • Published Date: June 7, 2017 12:38 PM IST

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