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Simple service to verify phone numbers or provide 2nd factor authentication.
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Latest commit 37cad34 @tjlytle tjlytle Added code examples inline.

[How-To] Number Verification & 2FA

Use Case

Verifying that a user owns a phone number has a few similar uses. A common mobile application use case is a one time verification on registration or installation.

First the mobile application collects the number for the user or identifies it automatically. Then a code is sent to the number via SMS, and the application either prompts the user to provide that code, or monitors the message inbox to verify the code automatically.

The same basic process can be used to add second factor authentication (2FA) to a login system - although now the verification flow happens on each login.

Adding a second factor to a login system, in this case a mobile phone, increases security as a physical device is needed along with the username and password.

When a user attempts to login, a code is sent to their phone, and they're prompted for that code to successfully complete the login.


We'll build a simple verification web interface using two PHP scripts.

The first will accept a form POST with the phone number to be verified. When a number is received, a unique code will be generated, and stored in the current session.

$number = $_POST['number'];
$code = rand(1000, 9999); // random 4 digit code
$_SESSION['code'] = $code; // store code for later

View in Context

We then send the code to the user by making an HTTP call to the Nexmo API.

$url = '' . http_build_query(array(
        'api_key' => NEXMO_KEY,
        'api_secret' => NEXMO_SECRET,
        'from' => NEXMO_FROM,
        'to' => $number,
        'text' => 'Your verification code is: ' . $code

$ch = curl_init($url);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
$result = curl_exec($ch);

View in Context

The second script will accept a form POST with the user provided code, and verify that it matches the one set in the first step.

    if($_SESSION['code'] == $_POST['code']){
        $text = "Your phone number has been confirmed.";
    } else {
        $text = "Sorry that code could not be verified.";

View in Context

Now we just add a little HTML to tie all this to a simple user interface and complete the example.

Next Steps

If this were a login page, the user wouldn't be prompted for a phone number, that would already be associated with their login credentials.

As with any example of a security related process, there are concerns not addressed by this how-to. Session configurations vary, and depending on the situation may not be a secure way to store the verification code. While rand() is a simple way to get a random number, it's only psudo-random.

Before you implement a number verification routine, do you own research into the security implications involved.

If you're verifying a number from a mobile device, it's better not to make the requests directly directly from the mobile application. Doing that requires you to compile your API credentials into the application, as well as send the verification code from the device itself - risking a malicious user intercepting the code.

In that case, build the number verification as a separate web service that your mobile application uses.

Demo Service

Along with the simple verification web interface, there's a demo verification service built as an API itself.

The same security warnings apply, this is a simple example designed to show how a verification service would work.

Get the demo running on a PHP server, then use the service to verify a number.

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