What Is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security to help protect your accounts and services. Usually used in addition to a password, it’s a second identity check to make sure you’re the authorised account holder.
Why Do I Need More Than Just A Password?
Passwords are inherently flawed for several reasons.
· Humans have poor memories, so we choose simple passwords that are easy to remember… and hack.
· We ought to use password managers to help us make unique passwords for every account. Still, many of us just keep recycling the same basic passwords for everything.
· We underestimate how complex a password should be, and how quickly a password can be hacked when it lacks complexity.
· We have security fatigue – we just need so many passwords in our lives, we just give up and resort to the same simple string on everything.
· We don’t always understand how many mainstream, credible websites have been hacked, putting our login credentials out there to be shared by criminals. Most people have been affected by data breaches on major websites.
What Can Be Used for 2FA?
The implementations vary between sites and services, but you may have already used 2FA without realising it. Some examples of 2FA are:
· When you try to log in, or perform an account action, the site requires you to enter a code sent to your on-file mobile phone via SMS before you can continue.
· When you have to answer a pre-arranged question, like your first street, first pet or mother’s maiden name.
· Entering the CVC from the back of your credit card before your payment will process.
· An authenticator device or app, like Google or Steam’s authenticators, that generate a new code every sixty seconds.
Two-Factor Authentication is any security check that uses the second piece of data to confirm your identity, in addition to your password.
Who Should Use 2FA?
You should. That is, if you have any password-protected accounts with apps, organisations or services that offer 2FA, then you should use 2FA. It is your best defence against the ever-growing risk of scam activity.