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Two-factor Authentication

Smartphones, computers, and online storage devices all store vital information. Passwords are one of the first key elements to protecting that information. You can make login information more secure by pairing the password - something you know (knowledge) - with another factor, such as something you have (possession) or something you are (inherence). Something you have might be a smartphone, and you can prove you have the phone by reporting back the PIN code that was sent to it in a text message. Something you are could include your fingerprint or other bio-metric data. When two of these factors are combined to secure an account it is called two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication is an important layer of defense beyond your password. It decreases your risk of falling victim to a compromise because criminals need access to two separate items to compromise your account – for instance your password and your smartphone (to receive the PIN code). Cyber criminals regularly “leak” (release) login credentials from compromised websites. They then use these leaked login names, email addresses, and passwords to find other accounts using the same credentials. This allows them to easily impersonate you online, gain access to work and personal accounts, sign online service agreements or contracts, engage in financial transactions, or change account information. Enabling two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for criminals to use this technique against you, because a password would not be sufficient to gain access.

Turning on two-factor authentication is really important on websites that process financial transactions (banks), contain sensitive information (Facebook), or could be used to impersonate you (Twitter). You can usually enable two-factor authentication through the security settings, and directions to enable two-factor authentication are available in the help section of each website (It may be called “login verification” on some websites). If you can’t find the directions on how to enable two-factor authentication on a specific website, an Internet search for “enabling two-factor authentication on” and the name of the website will usually get you the directions. To be more cyber secure, turn on two-factor authentication and pair it with a strong, unique password.



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