What is two-factor authentication? (and why it matters)

When it comes to protecting yourself on the web, few things are more important than protecting your personal information. It is estimated that one in two North American Internet users will suffer an account breach in 2021.

These breaches can come in many forms – whether it is a successful hack of a company resulting in knowledge or the login information of an individual being stolen using an unsecured network.

Because hackers can use this information to steal your personal data and access financial accounts, implementing additional security factors such as two-form authentication can protect your private information.

Two-factor authentication – what is it?

short answer: two-step verification

Two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor authentication, is a system that requires users to provide an additional form of authentication beyond their username and password to verify their identity.

This second form of authentication can come in many forms, such as a uniquely generated code that is sent to a person’s cell phone, or even a biometric authenticator such as a facial scan or fingerprint.

Two-factor authentication can be implemented every time someone tries to access their account. This can be applied for select situations such as accessing an account from a new device or GPS location.

Most of the websites require the user to enter their username and password first while logging in. After entering this information, the website proceeds to the second step of the authentication process.

Google's two factor feature in iPhone

The exact form of two-factor authentication used for a particular device or account varies depending on the website or device being used.

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While unique security questions such as “What was the model of your first car?” To make it more difficult for a hacker to access your account, they are considered the same type of information as your username and password – that is, information that is known and provided by the user.

It should be noted that login factors such as asking a security question are not generally considered two-factor authentication.

This information can also be leaked or guessed, allowing a hacker to gain access to your account.

As with two-factor authentication, the second form of authentication typically relies on something only the authorized user has or is vested with the user.

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For example, Google accounts use phone-based authentication, which sends a prompt to the phone number associated with the user’s account after a login attempt is made. The user has to tap the prompt on their phone to authenticate the login.

For other websites a unique numeric code will be texted to the user’s device. The user usually has a limited amount of time to enter the code before it expires.

In both cases, the user must have an authorized phone to complete the login.

Dive into the Reasons for Two-Factor Authentication

Nintendo Switch Account Two-Factor Setup

For some people, adding two-factor authentication to their accounts can feel inconvenient. But as Steven Price, founder of Tech Rockstars, explains:

“Two-factor authentication may ultimately be what makes the difference between a hacker getting into your account and keeping them out. Even if you have a strong password, companies face data breaches all the time. If your username and password were compromised, the hacker could use that login information to access personal information, including any financial accounts associated with that account. On the other hand, with two-factor authentication, the password itself is useless.

Regardless of how a hacker gains access to your passwords—whether through hacking, a phishing attack, or guesswork—two-factor authentication can present an insurmountable obstacle.

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Someone else might be able to guess your password, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll also be able to steal the phone that receives the one-time login codes you use for the authentication process.

And facial recognition technology has become increasingly advanced, distinguishing between a “real” person and a photograph.

The fact that two-factor authentication can keep hackers out of your accounts should be reason enough in itself to adopt it. So should the prevalence of cyber attacks in general.

1password logo icon and blurred background

Consider these statistics: More than 550 healthcare organizations in the United States are expected to suffer a data breach in 2022.

Forty-five percent of emails sent in 2022 were unsolicited spam emails, many of which contained phishing schemes and malware. Worldwide, it is estimated that 30,000 websites are hacked every day.

Needless to say, there are countless opportunities for usernames and passwords to be stolen – especially if you have accounts on many different websites.

You cannot control the quality of digital security used by other websites. But you can control the login process that protects your account information.

With two-factor authentication, you can keep the data you need safe, no matter what.

Protect yourself with two-factor authentication

It is estimated that cyber criminals will steal 33 billion records in 2023.

While you can’t always control what happens to your online data, you can take steps to protect yourself if your username or password is ever compromised.

By implementing two-factor authentication on your accounts, you can be confident that your information will be kept secure, and you will be able to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing it for malicious purposes.

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