December 5th, 2018

What is Two-Factor Authentication & Why Should You Use It?

Two-factor authentication, sometimes known as multi-factor authentication, is a security procedure for logging into a service or website. No more merely putting in your password. You put in your password and further verify your access, typically through a secret code sent to you via text, email, or even phone call.

Two-factor authentication isn’t limited to a text message. Devices like YubiKey and apps like Google Authenticator are taking two-factor to the next level. Even biometric data like a fingerprint or eye scan sees use in two-factor authentication.

Why Use Two-Factor Authentication?

While two-factor authentication may seem like a recent development, people have been using it for decades. Banks and ATMs use a form of two-factor authentication. You must have the correct PIN and the matching debit card. This system is essentially a physical token that only you have in your possession, similar to YubiKey. Aside from being very secure, there are some other great reasons to adopt this tech.

1) Secure Your Data Everywhere

Just as you use a PIN with your ATM debit card to make sure that only you access your money, two-factor authentication keeps your data safe. It’s especially pertinent when using unsecured wireless networks. You may think that your local library’s connection is safe, but any wireless network without a password is just not secure. Someone could be watching what you do, and even recording usernames and passwords. However, with two-factor authentication, only you can log into an account. Even if someone does skim your password through an unsecured network, you’re secure.

2) Protect Your Business From Vengeful Employees

When you have to fire someone, it may not be under the most friendly of circumstances. Sometimes a terminated employee may have a vendetta against you. What if they may try to log into company accounts from a remote location and delete, steal, or manipulate company information? By implementing two-factor authentication, you can protect your business.

Depending on your industry, you may feel your data is more or less desirable. Some industries have multiple layers of security for those who access specific data because it needs to be secure. Everyone should treat their most precious data in this way to keep it safe. If you’re worried about industry spies, data leaks, or any other type of breach, you may consider multi-factor (more than two factors) authentication.

3) Your Password Is Already Everywhere

Through multiple data breaches, likely, your favorite password is already out there. Hackers can easily purchase this information. Then they use it on many websites to see if you have any accounts out there. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, they may log in to all of them at some point. It’s a scary thought, but with two-factor authentication, you can protect your data even if your password is pasted all over the internet.

The importance of two-factor authentication is apparent in our fast-paced technological society. It’s merely an extra layer of protection that ensures your data stays secure. So, how can you implement two-factor authentication? Well, unfortunately, it’s typically dependent on the service you are using. Some online accounts, like Google, MSN, or Yahoo, have been using two-factor authentication as far back as 2011. Others have started implemented it more recently.

Even if your service doesn’t have two-factor, there are a few other ways to make sure you have that extra layer of security. We’ve mentioned a couple of them in this article already.

Two-Factor Hardware Devices and Apps

One company called Yubico offers actual keys, called Yubikeys. It’s a physical USB device to unlock your computer or a specific program. It can be configured to work with Salesforce, LastPass, and even Gmail, let alone your computer as a whole. They even have an option that works with Android mobile devices.

Password managers are services that securely store and create unique passwords for extra security. Many of them have options for two-factor authentication.

One of the most popular of these choices, LastPass, offers two-factor authentication through Google’s authenticator app. After all, you want an extra layer of security where you store all your passwords. Dashlane is another popular option for password management that supports two-factor authentication.

Put Two-Factor On All Your Accounts

So, what accounts should you put two-factor authentication on? Well, we advise it for all of them, but that can get tedious. If you only want to have it on some accounts, experts recommend starting with your email account. That’s because your email address is already public information which is one half of the equation needed to break in. You use your email address as a username on many other sites as well. Lastly, your email account can be used against you to reset essential passwords for your accounts on banking and social media sites. So, start with your email and then go from there.