During the early days of the internet there was a time when people would use the same easily memorable password for everything, from their email account to logging into many other online services.
In more present times we have learned, often the hard way, that this approach isn’t secure and leaves us vulnerable to hackers being able to access our accounts and gain access to our personal details. We have learnt to have better habits when it comes to choosing a password. For example, not reusing the same one, making sure they’re long and difficult to guess, using a mixture of letters and numbers and the value that password managers bring in keeping them all safe.
We have now reached a point where just using a password alone is no longer considered secure and that’s where Two-Factor Authentication, or 2FA, comes in…
What is 2FA?
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a way of bolstering the security of our accounts by requiring more than just a username or password. It usually comes in the form of a 6-digit code texted to our phones or generated through an authenticator app such as Microsoft Authenticator. It can also come in the form of receiving a permission prompt on an already signed in device.
What are the benefits to using 2FA?
There are many benefits to using 2FA. Passwords are not completely secure even if you have one that is practically impossible to guess. Passwords can end up in the wrong hands. You could be on the receiving end of a phishing attack which inadvertently gives away clues to your password. If your password becomes compromised then your account won’t be accessible by anyone else without the use of the Two-Factor Authentication.
2FA is convenient to use, especially if you have the latest smart phone devices. It can usually take just a few seconds to provide the second step which could save you a lot of time and the inconvenience of sorting out a hacked account.
There has been the occasional argument against 2FA, for example if criminals gained access to authentication done via text messages but there are other options such as push notifications and authenticator apps which you can choose to use too. Overall 2FA is proven to be many times more secure than simple username and password authentication, and while it may not always be 100% effective, it is certainly better than nothing at all.
2FA won’t always be available for all the services you use as not all providers enable it. The service is growing day by day though and providers such as Apple, Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin and many more give you the choice.
In conclusion, 2FA is a great service in an online world with constant threats. It reminds us of the importance of online security and most importantly, remaining vigilant in the digital world where protecting our personal information is paramount.
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