For those of you who do not already know, two factor authentication is a method of adding extra security to a product or service by requiring the user to provide their traditional account information, such as username & password, as well as an additional piece of information which can come in many forms. Two forms of two-factor authentication that you probably already know of and use are website security questions (i.e. “What was the name of your favorite high school teacher?”) and your PIN number.
Many people regard two factor authentication with a bit of annoyance. People see it as an unnecessary step which requires them to take more of their time before logging onto whatever account they are trying to get onto and going about their business. And if you have ever used two factor authentication, you have probably experienced this feeling. However, two factor authentication adds more protection to your important information by making it much harder for people to get into your accounts. You should always get two factor authentication when possible, because the con of taking an additional minute of your time is heavily outweighed by the amount of protection this process can add.
Besides security questions and PIN numbers, there are three main methods onto which the types of two factor authentication can be classified under.
Physical authentication USB devices are a quick way to add an extra layer of protection onto your accounts. Of course, these devices are also the easiest method to lose. If you are somewhat disorganized, you may end up losing one of these authentication keys, which could result in more time being lost than just a minute or two. To combat this, most USB authenticator keys are made so that they can be connected to your key chain.
Another, less commonly used for of physical, second-step authentication is through bio-metric scanning. The most common form of this that you may run into when setting up two-step authentication is fingerprint scanning.
2.Text Messages & Emails
Email authentication is an extremely common way of authenticating website accounts. This is a well-known fact for anyone who has to frequently reset their forgotten passwords. When using email for second stage authentication you’ll probably either have to click a link sent in an email to confirm that it’s you trying to access your account, or you’ll have to enter a one-time use password after you’ve entered your username and password.
Text message authentication works in the same way that email authentication does. The big risk behind text message authentication is that you have to rely on your phone carrier to get you the message containing your password. If you use text messages as a way to receive two-factor authentication, make sure that you are in an area that your carrier services.
Some websites offer applications which can be used to set up two factor authentication for your account. For example, if you download the Steam application on your smartphone, you can set up two factor authentication for when you login on your computer. Applications like the Steam app generate a single-use, random authentication code which will expire and be replaced after a certain amount of time.
Two factor authentication is just one of many methods for protecting your personal information and your computer. Hopefully this article has inspired you to see two-factor authentication in a different light. As always, if your computer gets infected with malware or if you have any other issues, bring your PC in for a PC tune-up or PC repair.
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