What is Two-Factor Authentication or 2-Step Verification?
Our digital data is not as safe as you think. If you do not live under a rock, you already know a bunch of cases of celebrities getting their phone hacked, and there’s no need to tell what happens next. Now, you may argue that you are just an ordinary person, like 90% of the population, why would anyone want to hack into your device? Well, you are correct, but taking an extra step to protect yourself from such incidents is never a bad decision.
One thing that you can do to stay safe is changing passwords – regularly! In fact, it is recommended to change your passwords once every three months. Another good tip is to use a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase alphabets in your password. However, in the end, it’s just a password. By sheer brute force or a simple phishing attack, passwords can be easily retrieved, and, clearly, are a laughable form of authentication in today’s environment.
That is why two-factor authentication or 2-step verification is becoming more popular these days. To put it in simple words, two-factor authentication means that, while logging into an account, you need to present two different things from two different sources to prove that you are the actual owner of the account you are trying to get into.
Now, the first thing that you need is the password, which is pretty obvious. The second thing or the second factor could be anything; but keeping the current technology in mind, the second factor is either a random, one-time, string of number, like a One-Time Password, or a biometric sensor, like fingerprint or retina scanner. Since not a major portion of users have access to biometric sensors, the first option, commonly known as a token, is the second factor of choice.
Almost all of the major internet services – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc. – provide the option to enable two-factor authentication on your account. The process works something like this – you link a phone number that you always have with you, to your account and enable two-step authentication from the settings menu of the said service. Now, every time you try to access your account, first you’ll have to enter your password; once you enter your password you’ll receive a text on the phone number you linked earlier containing a token. You won’t be able to enter your account unless you enter the token you receive after entering your password.
That sums up the gist of two-factor authentication. Although, nothing is ever safe on the internet, enabling the second factor for authentication is much safer than using just a password. Plus, it’s fairly easy to set up and the peace of mind you’ll have makes it well worth it.