Should You Use Two-Factor Authentication?
What exactly is two-factor authentication and what started it?
Breaking it down to the simplest explanation, it’s basically adding a second layer of protection to your account, app or service to go alongside your regular method of logging in. Two-Factor Authentication happens when you are required to use two types of identification to logging in.
Over the past few years, you may have heard a number of companies; app makers and service providers announce that they’re launching two-factor verification or two-factor authentication, often abbreviated to 2FV.
With Cyber security becoming a big concern, two-factor authentication (2FA) is a topic that is becoming hotter with each passing day.
How does two-factor authentication work online?
The most common form of two-factor authentication when logging into an account is the process of entering your password and then receiving a code via text on your phone that you then need to enter. The second layer in two-factor authentication means a hacker or other nefarious individual would need to steal your password along with your phone in order to access your account.
There are three types of authentication:
- Something you know: a password, PIN, zip code or answer to a question (mother’s maiden name, name of pet, and so on)
- Something you have: a phone, credit card or fob
- Something you are: a biometric such as a fingerprint, retina, face or voice
How does the second factor work?
After you enter your password — the first authentication factor — the second factor usually arrives by SMS. That is, you’ll get a text with a numerical code that you’ll then need to enter to log into your account. Unlike a PIN code for a debit card, a 2FA code is used only one time; each time you log into that account, you’ll be sent a new code.
Alternatively, you can use a dedicated authentication app to receive codes instead of having them texted to you. Popular authentication apps are Google Authenticator, Authy and DuoMobile.
Will 2FA make my accounts more secure?
No security product can claim to offer perfect, foolproof protection, but by using 2FA makes it harder to get into your account. You not only make your accounts more difficult to attack, but you also make your accounts less attractive targets.
Is 2FA a hassle to use?
Two-Factor Authentication takes a little longer to log into a web site, it will add 15-30 seconds. That time would be time well spent to protect your security. Web sites; especially banks, financial and health care sites, want to be sure that when a user logs in it is in fact the correct person. This is very difficult to do with just a password. Web sites and companies are working to make this login process easier and more secure. This is a hard job as easier and more secure don’t always work together.
Two-factor authentication is slowly becoming a norm in the digital world. Most of the banks, cloud storage services and social media websites already provide the option. You should switch on 2FA wherever possible. As they say, prevention is better than cure.