How One-Time Passwords work and why you should use them in your app.

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How One-Time Passwords work and why you should use them in your app.

With the increase in cyber security threats, it has become more and more necessary to upgrade the security standards of your web applications. You need to make sure your users’ accounts are safe.

Nowadays, a lot of online web applications are asking users to add an extra layer of security for their account. They do it by enabling 2-factor authentication. There are various methods of implementing 2-factor authentication, and SMS OTP authentication is one of them.

This article explains what it is, and how and why to use it. But before understanding that, let’s first briefly take a look at what two-factor authentication means.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication (or multi factor authentication) is just an extra layer of security for a user’s account. That means that, after enabling two factor authentication, the user has to go through one more step to log in successfully. For example, the usual steps for logging in to an account are:


But after enabling 2-factor authentication, the steps look something like this:


So this adds one more step to the login process. This method is more secure, because a criminal cannot access the user’s account unless they have access to both the user’s regular password and one time password.

Currently, there are two widely used methods to get that one time password:

  1. SMS-based: In this method, every time the user logs in, they receive a text message to their registered phone number, which contains a One Time Password.
  2. SMS OTP-based: In this method, while enabling 2-factor authentication, the user is asked to scan a QR image using a specific smartphone application.
    That application then continuously generates the One Time Password for the user.

The SMS-based method does not need any explanation. It’s easy, but it has its own problems, like waiting for the SMS on every login attempt, security issues, and so on. The SMS OTP-based method is becoming popular because of it’s advantages over the SMS-based method. So let’s understand how the SMS OTP-based method works.