It's everywhere: your email provider, your bank, your work account––they all have prompted you more times than enough to turn on two-factor authentication. Most of us brush away the process and feel it's unnecessary, even time-consuming; after all the chances of us even getting considered to be hacked are minuscule, right?
2FA - Definition
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is a secondary security measure––an extra layer of security used to prevent others trying to gain access to your online account. It means that after entering a username and a correct password, you are then prompted to enter another piece of evidence to verify your identity. Companies could feature this as either:
Something you know: perhaps a personal identification number, answers to personal questions or even a specific keystroke pattern.
Something you have: a temporary code received by SMS on your mobile phone, a credit card, or a small token or sorts.
Something you are: a fingerprint, an iris scan, a voice print, or more.
With this system, the threat of having your password stolen or your phone lost is no longer an issue; the chances of someone gaining information to both steps of your 2FA is highly unlikely. Websites and apps can also be more confident that the user accessing their domain is legitimate and they will be less prone to breachers.
Importance of Having 2FA
In the modern day, it's unbelievably easy to steal weak to moderate passwords if breachers really want to. According to SplashData, a company that collects information on leaked passwords, most of the common ones used are "123456", "123456789," and "password" or some other variant. No supercomputer is needed to compute these variants.
Furthermore, if one password is leaked, the hacked could try that rendition to all of your other accounts; the probability that you use the same password or something similar for other sites is surprisingly high as well, according to SplashData.
There is also the risk of your password being stolen by a security breach––whether you're working at a company or a website containing valuable information gets hacked.
Even if you do have a complicated password, hackers can carry out brute-force attacks, in which they use a computer to automate guessing hundreds of thousands of passwords per second; this is even easier if they have an idea of what your password could be.
Let's say all of the above is covered––security fatigue will still set in. To protect themselves, some consumers try to make it harder for attackers by creating more complex passwords and passphrases. But with so many data breaches flooding the dark web with user information, many just give up and fall back to weak passphrases.
Your Next Steps
For sure, many of us still have not installed 2FA for some or any of our online accounts. But as computer processing gets faster and internet security becomes a larger issue by the day, we strongly recommend you to start reviewing your online accounts, especially those with important information, and check if 2FA is an option.
And if the service does not provide 2FA, then we recommend that you consider improving your passwords, and keep your passwords secure by opting out of any password managers on your device.
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