What Is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication is an additional security feature that gives more protection to those accounts that contain your personal information. Instead of simply requiring users to enter a password (something you know), it also requires access to the linked mobile device (something you have).
After entering your traditional password, the site will send a dynamically generated code to your cell phone. You then have to enter the code to gain access to your account’s profile. This means that a cyber-criminal who gains access to your password still won’t be able to enter your bank account, for instance, without also stealing your mobile device.
Why It’s A Good Idea
It’s important to activate two-factor authentication on sites that support it, because it adds another layer of digital security and will make it much more difficult for hackers to gain entrance to your personal and financial data. Two-factor authentication requires cyber-criminals to gain access to your actual mobile device, which is harder for them to accomplish than guessing your password.
Even the strongest passwords can be cracked nowadays with programs that can try billions of letter, number and symbol combinations in a matter of seconds. Hackers also use algorithms and common sense to work around tricky password combinations, and often once they guess one they then have access to multiple sites and personal information.
What Sites Offer It
Enable two-factor identification on the following sites:
- Google: It’s important to build extra security around your Gmail account, because a great deal of your information flows through this one portal. Google will text you a 6-digit authentication code when you make a login attempt from an unknown device. You can also choose to save devices for as long as 30 days, so you don’t have to enter an authentication code each time you login. Only do this for personal devices, however.
- Apple: Protect all of the sensitive information on your iPhone, and also keep hackers out of your iTunes account.
- Facebook: The social network site uses “Login Approvals” as its two-factor authentication feature, and sends a 6-digit code to your device when you want to login from a foreign machine. You can also preapprove other computers from your original device to give you flexibility as well as security.
- Twitter: Don’t forego extra security just because a site is typically used for social, rather than financial or business, reasons. The more heavily you protect all your accounts, the less likely a hacker is to gain entrance to an important site.
- PayPal: It’s crucial to establish two-factor authentication for your PayPal account, simply because it allows access to your bank account.
- Amazon: You should take advantage of any extra security features on any site that allows you to save your payment information for future use.
If two-factor authentication isn’t enough to put your mind at ease, you might consider registering for credit score monitoring, which can alert you to certain activity that may or may not indicate fraud.