Since Google is making Two Factor Verification mandatory for all Google users starting November 9, 2021, it’s a good time to look at what Two Factor Authentication or 2FA is and how to use it. Two Factor Authentication may sound complicated, but in real life, it’s easy to use.
At the bottom of this post are links to instructions showing how to set up 2FA on major online accounts. Two Factor Authentication is often called Two-Step Authentication or Two-Step Verification. For the purposes of this post, these are interchangeable terms.
What is 2FA?
It is an extra layer protecting an online account that is some step more than using only a username and password. Some people think they are already using two-factor authentication because they use an email address and a password to get into their online accounts. But that’s not quite right.
And when you have 2FA set up, your account does not have to rely on your password as its only form of protection. 2FA is available on most online accounts—Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, to name a few. Some companies will give you a discount if you have 2FA set up.
Why use 2FA?
Malicious attacks against governments, companies, and individuals are common. And there are no signs that the hacks, data breaches, and other forms of cybercrime are slowing down. That is why digital security is constantly evolving. Companies with an online presence are figuring out it’s bad for business when their customers get hacked. The tech industry is in a race to help us lock down our online accounts in the easiest, most secure way possible. Biometrics – using your fingerprint, face, or voice to get into your online life– is becoming standard. Passwords Manager apps can help you create secure passwords and manage unique passwords across all online accounts, and that is a good starts. But using 2FA is the best way to avoid getting your online accounts hacked.
With Google’s recent push to make 2FA mandatory on all Google accounts, we can expect a harder line from other tech companies. So, now is an excellent time to get comfortable using 2FA.
How does 2FA work?
To get into an online account using 2FA, you enter your username, password, and the 2FA code. Access granted. It’s as simple as that. Remember that 2FA means Two Factor Authentication. With 2FA, Factor #1 is your password. Factor #2 is a one-time code. Together these two Factors unlock your account.
Without 2FA, when you log in to an online account, you enter a username to tell the website who you are. Then you enter a password—Factor # 1 is your password, but it can also be a PIN, security question, or stroke pattern depending on your device and the website or app you are using. Without 2FA, only one authentication factor is required to prove you are the account holder. Your username is not a factor of authentication.
Where do I get my 2FA code?
Some online accounts send the 2FA code as a text message to your device, but that is not the most secure way. Text messages are vulnerable to hacks. The best way to receive your 2FA code is to use an authenticator app–and many sites require you to use this method. You enter the one-time code shown in the authenticator app, and you are granted access to your account.
What is an authenticator app?
An authenticator app is an app that generates 2FA codes for you. There are many different authenticator apps, but we suggest using the app your online account suggests. See links at the bottom of this post. Authenticator apps are free and are available from your app store.
If you only have a password protecting your online accounts, you are using One Factor Authentication. Two Factor Authentication is an extra security layer. It takes the pressure off your passwords. Security experts strongly recommend setting up 2FA on all social media accounts and any websites and apps that contain personally identifiable information such as banks, health, and insurance websites. Wherever possible, protect your digital life with 2FA. It’s an added layer of protection that is easier to use than you might think. Some shopping websites will offer a discount to accounts with Two Factor Authentication setup. Ask where you shop online.
Two Factor Authentication is like adding a security alarm to your home. It stops criminals in their tracks. Using a weak password is like putting a giant flashing ‘We’re Open’ sign over your unlocked front door.
Search Phrases to Use for This Topic
Remember, when you search online, there is no need to capitalize letters. Here are some search phrases to try if you want to learn more.
- what is 2FA
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