What You Need to Know About Two Factor Authentication
Passwords are annoying, right?
There’s your email password, then your Facebook password and your Twitter password. Passwords for Netflix, your online banking, your Amazon account, and a dozen more sites that you need an account to access.
We are always told to make new and unique passwords, ones that are easy to remember. But after making a dozen or more, are you going to remember them all? And if you use only one or two passwords with small variations each time, will you remember which variant goes with which website?
It’s annoying. But the thing that’s even more annoying? Your passwords—even the ones that are case-sensitive and containing special characters—are not doing their job of keeping you safe.
It’s no secret, really, that there is an ever-increasing amount of cyber-crime, and with that there is a growing need for greater protection. There was a time when a simple password was enough to offer you protection, but that time has long passed. Companies and large institutions have problems dealing with hackers and data thieves, so you can imagine that your password really wouldn’t be much of a deterrent to someone intent on stealing your information.
To make matters worse, many people don’t even follow the suggested course of having passwords unique to each account. Using one single password for all your accounts means that anyone who manages to discover it now has access to everything.
In an effort to make you more secure, companies are starting to offer two factor authentication. You may have encountered this already. You may be using it every day without knowing what it is, or what it is called. You may even find it annoying.
But that it a good thing.
What is 2FA?
Two factor authentication, also called 2FA, is pretty much what it sounds like: using two methods to authenticate your identity and right to access your account. This can take several different forms.
Typically, you will still have a password, but the second form of access will be something that should be available to you and you alone. Depending on the circumstances and where it is used (i.e. online or to gain access to a physical location), it could be any number of different things, such as:
- An item that only you possess, like an ATM card or a fob
- A pattern, similar to what you might draw on your phone to unlock it
- A fingerprint or voice analysis
This second means of authentication will make your account vastly more secure, which is not just recommended, but absolutely vital going forward. Two factor authentication will protect you where a password will leave you vulnerable. So why isn’t everyone using it?
Like everything else, it does have a drawback.
The Downside to Greater Security
While 2FA is needed to remain secure against online threats, there are those who find the extra step that it requires to be annoying and time-consuming.
Traditionally, access to your email, banking, or whatever other actions you undertake online has required nothing more than entering your password. Quick and simple. Unfortunately, it also means that stealing your information is similarly quick and simple.
2FA means having to take extra time to enter additional information. It might require receiving a text message or email with a code to enter, or it might require punching in personal details, but in any case it is an extra step that not everyone wants to take. Consider, however, that if it is annoying to you, how much more annoying is it to a thief trying to access your information?
The annoyance of 2FA is what makes it effective. A cyber-criminal is much more likely to be deterred by the extra protection, and even if they are not, they will certainly be slowed by it, allowing you more time to detect a problem and act upon it.
While the current trend in today’s world is to make everything progressively quicker and easier, that is definitely not how you want to approach your online security. Two factor authentication may be annoying to you, but if you wish to remain secure, it simply is not an option anymore.
If you truly want to keep your assets safe (and who doesn’t?) consider the minor inconvenience caused by an additional bit of authentication to be the price paid for peace of mind.