Two Factor Authentication, what it is and why you should use it

Think no one can guess your password? Maybe not but the likelihood is more on the side of “maybe so.” Adding a “Two-Factor Authentication” will better protect you and your online life. Enabling these services adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts.

You can also think of them as deadbolts to your online house. These features significantly improve the security of your accounts because they require something only you will know or have, like a personalized code or PIN and your phone.

Even if your password gets stolen, it will be more difficult for someone to access your account if you’ve enabled these services.

Two-factor authentication (also referred to as two-step or multi-factor authentication or verification or 2FA) is an overly technical-sounding term for a simple solution.

It’s a security tool that uses multiple verification techniques to prove that the person attempting to log onto an account is really them.

Some of these methods include:

  • Something you know: a password, code, passphrase or PIN
  • Something you have: a physical token, chip, fob, or phone

These methods provide an extra layer of security. Most people only have one layer – their password – to protect their account. But combining something you know (your password) with something you have (your phone, token, etc.), makes your account even more secure.

There’s no universal method, but most web services that offer account protection beyond the password require the use of a phone, email account, physical device (token, chip, fob, etc.), texting service, your knowledge of a social networking account, etc.

Here’s how many services typically work:

  1. You enter a phone number or an alternate email. (This is a way for the online service to contact you when you want to access your account.)
  2. The service provider generates and sends you a verification code. This code is only good for one use – otherwise it would be just like a password!
  3. Once you receive the code, you enter it in, along with your username and password and gain access to your account. (This step can vary depending on the web service you’re using.)

Here are step-by-step instructions on some popular platforms:

Email Providers:

Social Networks:

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