The basic method of logging into any website or system, using a username and password, is in truth not a very secure way to authenticate yourself on the Internet. Passwords can be guessed, discovered, and revealed by hackers fairly easily (see Yahoo Data Breach 2016). Two-factor authentication (2FA), or two-step verification is a better way to verify your identity.
What is Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor authentication simply adds a second step to the log-in process to verify yourself. This extra verification usually takes the form of a numeric code sent to your phone via call or text. At that time your asked to enter onto the website or app you are trying to access. Once your account is verified via the code, you're able to log in.
This means that, unless a hacker has physical access to your personal cell phone, they'd be unable to access the code needed to login to your account.
Trading Security for Convenience
To clarify, 2FA does make things a little more inconvenient for you. It takes a little bit longer to take the extra step, but remember, being secure isn't always the easiest or most convenient option. And hackers try to capitalize on you looking for more convenience (skipping two-factor, using the same password for every website, etc.). But in the long run, an extra layer of security is always going to be worth it even if it costs you a few extra seconds when logging in.
Think about it this way - when you go to the bank, you usually need a form of ID so the bank knows you are who you say you are. It should be no different when we access our accounts online. Our most important personal information kept on many of our online accounts. For example, if a hacker gets your passwords, they could:
- View all of your personal emails, contact information, photos, etc.
- Send phishing attacks to your contacts
- Steal your banking information
Find Two-Factor Authentication
Some websites and apps, especially banking apps, have two-factor authentication enabled by default. However, most other websites do not automatically enable it; you have to find it and enable it by yourself.
Google Authenticator is a mobile security application based on two-factor authentication that can be used across many websites and devices.
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