When you leave your house, you double-check the doors. When it’s cold outside, you double-layer. When you’re really sure of something, you double down, and when you want to be sure of something, you do a double take. There’s comfort and confidence in doing things twice, and when it comes to keeping your personal and financial information safe online, that means doubling up your security with two-factor authentication.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
You don’t want just anyone logging into your online accounts. That’s why you create a username and password that only you know, enabling you and only you to access your online information. This process of inputting a password to view your online accounts is called single-factor identification. It means you have one line of defense against hackers accessing your online information. While using a password is always a good idea, having just the one line of defense does mean that if someone is able to gain access to your password, they will be able to access your online information.
Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to add an additional verification step. Two-factor authentication makes it much more difficult for some unauthorized person to access your information. Two-factor authentication creates an additional line of defense for the security of your account, so you have to prove your identity twice through two separate and distinct methods. This makes it a more dependable way to secure your accounts online.
Types of Two-Factor Authentication
Most often, two-factor authentication involves first inputting your password as usual, followed by one of these common secondary authentication methods.
- Text Verification – This authentication method involves receiving a code via text message to your phone, which you can then enter on a website to gain access to your account.
- Phone Verification – This method involves receiving an automated phone call with a code, which you can then enter on a website to gain access to your account.
- Device Verification - When you try to log into an app on a new device (like a smart TV or laptop), it'll direct you to pull up a page with a code on a device already connected to the app (like your cell phone).
- Email Verification – This authentication method involves receiving a code via email, which you can then enter on a website to gain access to your account.
- Biometric Verification – If the device you’re accessing an account with is equipped with a camera, it can sometimes scan and recognize your unique facial features to verify your identity. Some devices also detect your unique fingerprint before enabling access.
- Knowledge Verification – When you set up your account, you may be asked to select questions and provide answers to help authenticate your identity. Sometimes these questions are personal to you (What’s the name of your childhood best friend?) and sometimes they involve knowing a simple 4-digit pin.
- Possession Verification – If you are in possession of a valid ID, a credit card, a security token, or even a cell phone, these can all act as physical proof that you are who you say you are.
- Location Verification – You can restrict access to your accounts to actual areas of the world thanks to GPS technology that recognizes fraudulent login attempts, based on your pre-designated authorized and unauthorized geographical areas.
Where should you enable two-factor authentication?
If you’re wondering which of your accounts to protect with two-factor authentication, the answer is as many as possible. If an account allows for two-factor authentication, you should take advantage of it! While not every online site has the ability to use two-factor authentication, it’s become more and more common. Try to use it wherever you can as a means to better protect your online information as much as possible.