Imagine waking up one day and realizing you cannot log into your online accounts. You realize that your email has been compromised, your website is hacked and all other online accounts are inaccessible. All this can be prevented by getting two-factor authentication for all your online accounts.
While most people may not already realize it, they use two-factor authentication more regularly than they imagine. Whenever you swipe bankcards and enter a pin or asked to produce your ID when banking, these are everyday examples of tw0-factor authentication processes.
Two-factor authentication is simply an identification process that requires individuals to provide two ways of proving their identity. This authenticating method is commonly used to protect online accounts. Whenever you log into an account online, you are asked to take an extra security measure before you can log into the account. This helps to make data more protected online.
Two-factor authentication online
2FA or two-factor authentication is a security protocol used to add an extra security layer for user online accounts. The process of entering a password when logging into an online account is the most common type of 2FA. Once you enter your password, two-factor authentication requires you to enter a security code sent to your phone via text before you are granted access to your account.
This second layer of security means that a hacker would need to steal your authentication code from your mobile device to access your account.
Types of 2FAs
Generally, there are three types of two-factor authentications. These can be:
- Something familiar to the user such as a pin, zip code, or answer to a unique question like your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, or your former school.
- Credit card, phone, or fob
- A biometric like a voice, face, fingerprint, or retina
How the second factor works
Once you enter your password, this is the first authentication process. The second factor is usually sent as a code by phone. You will receive a text message with a numerical code that needs to be entered o be able to log into the account.
Unlike pin codes, two-factor authentication codes are usually only used once. This means that you get a different code each time you log into your account. Apart from receiving the code via text, it is possible to use an authentication app that you simply log into when you need a new code. Popular authentication apps include Authy, Google authenticator, and DuoMobile.
Choosing between SMS and app
Numerous online sites like Amazon, Dropbox, Microsoft, and google come with the option of using an authentications app or SMS. Twitter is a good example of an app that only uses SMS to send codes to users. Therefore, the choice depends on the online site you use and your personal preference.
In terms of security, receiving your two-factor code via text is less secure compared to using the app. Hackers can easily intercept text messages or hijack your phone, prompting the carrier to send the code to another device unknowingly. Besides, if your text messages are synced to your computer, hackers can easily access the codes by hacking your computer.
An authentication app comes with the benefit of not relying on mobile phone carriers by accessing the code directly from the safe app. In-app codes expire every 30 seconds to a minute, making it hard for hackers to access.
Why you should use 2FA
No online account provider can boast of offering 100% foolproof protection to their clients without combining two or more security protocols. Two-factor authentication is the sure way of ensuring third party hackers cannot gain access to your accounts by making it harder to hack.
Two-factor authentication makes your account less attractive or desirable to hackers since it can take time to get a code. This is why it is advisable to register for 2FA even as you download free antivirus for Windows or other security tools for your devices. 2FA makes your account less likely to be hacked. It is an additional security layer every online account holder needs to have.
It is easy to use
Two-factor authentication only requires you to go the extra step and provide a code to log into your accounts. You simply need to enter your password and then enter the 2FA code to gain access to your account.
Using 2FA is hustle free and only takes a few seconds to enter the code. Combining a strong password and 2FA is a sure way of guaranteeing the safety of your online accounts. Ensure your passwords include numbers, letters, and special characters.