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Let’s Talk About Two-Factor/Two-Step Authentication

two factor step authentication

Your data isn't as safe as you think.

Instances of people gaining access to private information — such as email accounts, business documents, or banking information — are steadily on the rise. Using malicious software (“malware”) administered via phishing, installed spyware apps, or hacking unprotected wifi signals are all ways to gain access. Though all of these are just waiting for exploitation, you’re most likely to have your account infiltrated by someone guessing, hacking, or managing to reset your password. For this reason, it is recommended that you employ two-step or two-factor authentication wherever it is available. 

Passwords Can Be Flimsy

A complicated, complex password is a significant first step on the road to cybersecurity, but it’s not always enough to keep your data safe. Cybercriminals have ways of stealing or guessing password information that can be used to gain access to your account. Whether you left a locked database open at work over the weekend, left sensitive notes where the public can see them, or have a weak password, it’s possible to gain access to your sensitive data. Some systems even allow you access to reset a password with expired password information. Lucky for you, many systems are now including a second way to prove your identity — two-step or two-factor authentication.

What is Secondary Authentication?

Two-step/factor authentication relies on the idea that it is unlikely that a cyber threat would have access to more than one of your devices at a time. Secondary authentication gives you a chance to vouch for your own identity from your phone, email address, or another locked account that only you should be able to access. What this looks like in action would be an email account requiring a password as well as a unique code that the service texts your phone. Though a hacker may have figured out your email password, it’s improbable that they have access to your fully unlocked mobile device. 

What is the Difference Between Two-Step Authentication vs. Two-Factor Authentication?

Many online queries, websites, forums, and articles will use the terms “two-step authentication” and “two-factor authentication” interchangeably, though there is a subtle difference. In the past, two-step authentication purely means that authenticating details provided to a secondary source are requested, even if the details themselves are identical. More recently, the expression of “two-factor” authentication is used as it implies that differing details are required for a person to gain access to a restricted area. An example of this would be the email account that requires both your password as well as a unique, disposable code sent your mobile device. The password would be one factor, and the code would be the second factor in such an authentication process. 

Where Can I Use Two-Factor Authentication?

As cybersecurity for mobile devices has increased over the years, so too has the availability of two-factor authentication. Looking through the security settings of most social media accounts, email accounts, and databases will likely reveal the option for two-factor authentication. 

Some Popular Online Destinations with Two-Step Authentication

This is by no means a complete list, but it does provide users with knowledge that the service exists.  Email Clients

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Yahoo
  • Microsoft

Messaging Services 

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger

Social Media Sites

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter 
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr

File Storage Services 

  • DropBox
  • Evernote

Online Purchasing

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • Etsy

Money Services 

  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Square
  • Kickstarter
  • Intuit/TurboTax

Password Management 

  • LastPass
  • Dashlane

Website/Mail Services

  • Wordpress
  • GoDaddy
  • Dreamhost
  • MailChimp​​

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