You’re constantly hearing about online services getting hacked and passwords being compromised in the news. As we move more and more of our personal and business life online it becomes increasingly important that we’re the only ones who can access this information. A couple of weeks back we shared an article on password tools to generate strong and random passwords. That’s a great place to start, but if you’re really serious about protecting your online accounts and data then you need to take the next step and activate two factor authentication.
What is 2 Factor Authentication?
Two Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security when it comes to protecting your online accounts. It requires not only a username and password but also something that only you – the user – has physically on them. (Such as a cell phone or a hardware token)
How Does it Work
Essentially, you’ll enter your username and password just as you always would but as soon as you correctly enter your credentials you will be asked to insert a code that’s sent to you via text message. There are also apps that you can download to do this as well. This code is random, only available for a limited time, and a 1 time use code. The idea is that you’d have to know your login details but then also have access to your mobile phone as well. This greatly reduces the risk of an intruder gaining access to your accounts.
How do you get started?
More and more you see lots of online services making this type of functionality available. Have a look in your account settings for a spot to activate two factor authentication or sometimes it’s referred to as “multi factor authentication” or “2FA” for short.
The vast majority will use your cell phone number to SMS text message you the code but Google has also produced it’s own app called Authenticator (Availble on iOS, Android and BlackBerry) which works with all Google products and some third party services are using the Authenticator as well.
It’s really important on highly sensitive accounts such as e-mail, cloud storage (dropbox, iCloud, etc) and financial portals (such as PayPal or Stripe). Anywhere that you think would be chaos if someone managed to gain access that you weren’t aware of.
Hopefully you found this article useful and you can take some extra precautions to secure your online data.