What is Two Factor Authentication

Double Your Security with Two Factor Authentication

You might have heard of the concept Two Factor Authentication or Two-Step Authentication. These are terms used to describe how you can increase your security when accessing online accounts or services.

What does Two Factor Authentication Do?

Typically, when you log into a website or account you use a username and password. This is considered a single step authentication which has become very insecure since most passwords are relatively easy to crack with highly sophisticated but free to use programs. Two-step authentication means that besides providing your username and password you also must provide another form of authentication to access your website or service.

Even if a person knows your username and your password; which hopefully they don’t; they would still need your 2nd factor of authentication to access the information. This significantly enhances the security of your accounts since only you should have access to the 2nd type of authentication.

Typically, a person will use their cell phone to authenticate with a website or service. You can either receive a text message with a 4 or 6-digit number which is typically time sensitive but isn’t the best route to go. Or you can choose to use an authentication app that has a randomly assigned 6-digit number that refreshes every 30 seconds or so.

There are also specialized devices that you can use to authenticate with the service or website. This is different than your cell phone and is typically the size of a USB drive that has a randomly generated number that you input when trying to access a website or service.

The benefits of using two factor authentication is that you will make it significantly harder for someone to access your information. Even if you use a very long difficult to crack password, websites databases often get hacked and with the data dump a hacker can then try to crack the passwords which might be hashed for added security but with time it might be possible to break the hash. So, a very strong password will be enough in this type of situation.

Drawbacks

One of the issues that people face with two factor authentication is what happens if you lose your phone or secondary device? Typically, you would have a set of authentication backup keys that should be generated when you 1st set up the 2-factor authentication just in case you need to access your accounts and you don’t have your phone or device. It’s important to store these backup codes in a secure location because whoever has access to that along with your username and password, and they will be able to access your accounts.

Also, people like to access the information quickly and therefore put usability over security which is a big mistake.

Not every website or service offers two factor authentication because of the very issue mentioned above where convenience is often prioritized over security. Most people feel that they won’t be targeted by a hacker because why would a hacker want to target them? The problem is most types of hacks are automated and often look for the easiest targets to attack.

My recommendation is to use two factor authentication wherever it’s offered and make sure to keep your backup access codes in a secure location. The extra couple of seconds that it takes to login to your account or website is a small price to pay for having a higher level of security.

Hopefully this article open your eyes to a very simple way to increase the security of your accounts and giving you peace of mind knowing that next time you hear of a major hack taking place, you’re most likely protected. If you found this article helpful feel free to subscribe so you can receive our new articles and share with your friends and family.

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