Imagine waking up to a great day, opening your laptop, and realizing you are locked out of your online accounts. Your email is breached, bank credentials are stolen and some shady transactions appear on your credit card.
This could happen to anyone and the damages caused at times are irreversible. I was running a Google search to inquire about Spectrum WiFi prices and I stumbled upon a study about securing your online accounts. Among the many measures to say safe and keep your accounts secure, cybersecurity experts recommend using two-factor authentication.
What is 2FA?
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an additional layer of security to your account. The first layer of security is your password. Sometimes, a password is not enough to secure your account. Let’s be real, if anyone else gets access to your password, this means your security has been compromised, right?
2-factor authentication adds another layer of security onto the login process. This new layer is either an OTP, biometric verification, or an auto-generated code.
Symantec published a study stating that 80% of data breaches can be eliminated with 2FA. It’s that big of a deal! Two-factor authentication ensures the request is made from the legit user only. 2FA works in two ways:
One Time Password (OTP)
It is a password you receive via email, call, or SMS. It’s normally a combination of numerical or alphabets. Once you enter the OTP, you can access your account. This method of verifying has become highly popular in the banking industry. In case someone else has your card details, the fraud can be prevented. They will have to verify the request by entering the OTP, which only the original user will have access to.
Time-Based One Time Password (TOTP)
In this method, a security code is generated on the device using the RFC 6238 algorithm. This also generates a temporary passcode without the need to connect the web or a cellular network. This code is used to access your account after entering the password.
The code is generated by a combination of secret key and timestamp. This ensures the password generated is unique. This code is regenerated after every 30 seconds. hence, no hacker can spoof it. Facebook, Twitter, and several other big companies are using this code.
How to Enable 2FA for Your Account?
To enable 2-factor authentication, you must first have to check if the website supports. To that, go to the settings of the website or app and look under the security settings tab. Once you enable it, your account’s security will amplify
For instance, if it’s Whatsapp, go to the settings and click two-step verification. Enable it and the app will ask you to enter a 6-digit pin. This will be your verification pin (which you must remember). You may also add an email address in case you forget the PIN.
Why Activate Two-Factor Authentication?
Passwords are not infallible as they were. Hackers are very smart in cracking passwords. They test password combinations within seconds and break into your account.
Another problem is 65% of the people use the same password for most of their accounts. It is like having one key for the car and house. You must be wondering about security questions! Don’t they offer security? They do but most answers are easy to judge especially now that we are sharing so much of our lives on social media.
Anyone who interacts with you daily can answer those questions. They include the name of your first pet, where you got married, your graduation year, etc. Some of your personal information can also be found through public records. Two-factor authentication is a foolproof method to secure your accounts. An extra layer of protection on top of the password will keep the criminals at bay.
Accounts to Use Two Factor Authentication For
There are certain accounts we use daily that need 2FA. Google accounts are first on the list because they are the backbone of our virtual presence. If you don’t use Gmail, then apply this layer of security to all other email accounts. Then comes bank websites, social networks, cloud storage accounts, communication apps, and password managers.
2FA is great but it’s not a bulletproof way of securing your account. Should your smartphone stops working unexpectedly or runs out of battery, be prepared to get locked out of your account.
In case your smartphone gets stolen, the thief will access your accounts and no amount of 2FAs can stop them. Despite these limitations, two-factor authentication is a great way to improve account security. Any website or app that has personal information should be secured with 2FA. Even my Spectrum San in Antonio – its an app – which I use to may by bill deserves an additional layer of security.
You will need a code every time you want to log into your account. It may be a fuss but it’s for your own good.