In our continuing series about cyber security, we are talking about two-factor authentication. Digital crime has been rising as more of our lives is online. Cyber security feels elusive and difficult to understand. With this series, we want to explain in simple terms what different aspects of cyber security entail. Two-factor authentication is a very useful and easy way to boost the security of your data and personal information. Simply incorporating two-factor authentication can significantly decrease your 

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Also known as 2FA, TFA, or two-step verification, two-factor authentication is a measure that adds an extra layer of security. The essence of two-factor authentication is that it asks for something you know and something you have. This is commonly a password in combination with a mobile phone notification or text. This makes it harder for a thief or potential intruder to gain access to your personal accounts, data, or other information. They will not only need to crack your password, they will need to steal something physical of yours, too.

Other forms of 2FA can include a USB, a card, a physical key, a biological factor like a fingerprint scan, a hardware token, a security question, a personal identification number (PIN), a security question, and many more.

Where is Two-Factor Authentication Used?

Two-factor authentication is already very commonly used throughout our lives. Can you think of places where you already use two-factor authentication? A very common example is the bank card. When you use your bank’s ATM, you insert your physical bank card and enter your PIN number along with it. That’s something physical you have (the card) combined with something you know (a PIN code) that, together, unlock your bank account.

Recently, a lot of well-known companies have started offering two-factor authentication. When you see it, consider opting in, especially if it is an account that holds sensitive information. This is especially useful if you happen to need to access your account on a public or unsecure device (a library computer or a friend’s computer). That way, even if the device is bugged to steal your password, they will still be unable to access your account without the second authentication factor.