Email vs. SMS Verification: Which is Safer?
By Brittany Christian
September 14, 2022
Everyone uses some form of verification to get into their emails and favorite apps. Email and SMS verification are the most common forms of verification. Now, with Two-Factor Authentication becoming popular in online security, there are questions about the safety of the two.
Email verification protects a user’s identity by using their email to help verify who they are. For example, what happens if users can’t get into their Microsoft account because they forgot the password? Usually, Microsoft will send a code to an emergency email account so the user can recreate a new password. As far as SMS verification, if you have a Microsoft account and use the Microsoft Authenticator app to log in, it sends you text messages to verify it’s you. Both email and SMS make for more secure authentication, but there are pros and cons to everything. Grab paper and pen! Let’s look into the pros and cons of Email and SMS verification to see their potential threats and strengths. Determine which is safer for you afterwards.
Pros & Cons of Email Verification
- Avoids Emailing Risky Accounts – Some email addresses aren’t real people. These are fraudulent or chargeback accounts that can get you email black-listed for sending emails to “traps”. Email verification helps by ensuring you’re not sending an email to trap accounts.
- Reduce Spam Complaints – Spam complaints are one of the issues with having an email. Keeping your spam rates low can also help prevent black-listing. Email verification helps to identify emails that are spam accounts.
- Identify Catch-All Mail Servers – Catch-All mail servers accept all emails sent even if the mailbox doesn’t exist. Email verification can help you remove these emails from your email list.
- Reliance on List validation tools – Deliverability is an important part of emails. List validation tools like ZeroBounce or MailFloss will require you to do a lot of spring cleaning for emails that aren’t needed or wanted. Email verification doesn’t help with this.
- Cost – Quality validation services such as Protectimus or Duo Security aren’t free and can become expensive at scale. Security isn’t free either, and good security costs. If you wish to pay for email verification, you might want to look into your budget.
- Oversending – Users dislike overly frequent emails. Oversending can seem spammy and can damage your credibility. Email verification ,unfortunately can’t help with this, as it’s part of their policy to email the user upon log-in.
Pros & Cons of SMS Verification
- Convenient – Almost everyone has a smart device that they carry around with them. SMS verification is convenient to use because it sends messages to your smartphone. The fact that it’s right there and ready for you to use is great.
- Easy – SMS verification sends a code for verification. All the user has to do is type in that code, and they’re in. That’s quick and easy!
- Accessibility – Many forms of verification aren’t applicable unless you have internet access. In the case of SMS verification, you can always use your mobile data. Therefore, you can still access your SMS verification even without internet connection.
- Risk of Impersonations – Impersonations can happen by an attacker duplicating your SIM card. If the attacker has access to the victim’s personal information, they can request your mobile provider to give them another SIM card. Or, activate a different cell phone number under your SIM card. Read about the infamous Twitter® Hack for more. Using SMS can create this sense of insecurity.
- Malware Attacks – Malware attacks can happen on your phone. These attacks affect your SIM card which can allow the perpetrator to receive information on calls and text messages. This could allow them to log-in to accounts that receive SMS verification.
- Phishing – Phishing is one of the biggest threats to internet security. These text messages will require you to log into an app to install cookies from the app. Phishing can happen over email, too so be careful when seeing any messages from your favorite apps or websites.
Which is Safer?
Email and SMS verification are here to stay, and with two-factor authentication coming, it gives a little room to breathe when it comes to safety. However, both of these features have pros and cons, and malicious people can still get in. Here’s an article about one human, one login technology.
At humanID, we provide an anonymous way for you to log in to your accounts. humanID’s anonymous single sign-on allows you to use your cell phone number or email and saves it so that the app or website remembers who you are. Whilst doing this, it’ll delete the trace of your phone number or email so that no hackers can get any information. If you wish to learn more about how our products work, visit humanId’s product page.