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Do You Need to Use 'Two Factor Authentication' On Every Account?

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Two factor authentication (2FA) sounds like a fancy new tech but we’ve actually been using it for decades. When you get money out of the hole in the wall at your bank, you’re using 2FA. It’s the practice of providing an additional piece of information when you access an account to help bullet-proof the security.

• One factor authentication (1FA) involves you just providing something that you know, e.g. a password.

• 2FA involves providing something that you know (a password) and something that you have, e.g. bank card or unique code sent to your mobile phone. Cyber criminals would need to physically steal this from you (in addition to your login credentials) to gain access to your account.

• When three or more factors are used, such as bank card, pin code and palm print, this is known as multi-factor authentication (MFA) but don’t worry, 2FA is usually more than sufficient for us.

How does it work?

Here is a cool illustration of how it works.


Illustration from Imperva.

Which online accounts need 2FA?

  • Banks have been using it for a while now, so your online banking should already be setup with 2FA as standard so no need to worry about these.
  • You should consider using 2FA for any accounts where financial instructions can be performed, such as investment/trading accounts.
  • I’d recommend setting up 2FA on social media and email accounts too as this goes a long way to helping to prevent identity theft.

How to implement two factor authentication?

Simply, navigate to the respective ‘Help’ or ‘Account Security’ section of the website in question and they will provide instructions on how to do so!

It is starting to be adopted outside of banking by mainstream websites such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Hotmail, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, PayPal, WordPress.com, Amazon, Nest, WhatsApp, etc. To be used universally, google created ‘Google Authenticator’ which many websites are adopting. It is an app that turns your chosen device (e.g. smartphone or tablet) in to a second factor of authentication by sending you a unique code that you then enter into the website your logging in to (along with your usual passphrase).

At present, 2FA is one of the best ways you can lock down your online accounts. Yes, having to enter in an additional code when logging in is an additional step you need to take but when weighed against the benefits it brings, for me it is a no-brainer for your key accounts.

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