IF YOU WANT to keep your online accounts safe, adding two-factor authentication (2FA) is the single most important step you can take.
Lets be clear: no security measure is 100 percent hacker-proof. Here we’ll outline exactly what two-factor authentication is, how it works, and how you can set it up.
It doesn’t take long to put 2FA in place, and the next time someone else tries to access your account with a stolen set of login details, you’ll be glad you did.
What is 2FA: Understanding your Risk
Usernames and passwords are compromised every minute. Over time, one can see how some clever social engineering, a lost password list or even a lucky guess are all real-life possibilities. Two-factor authentication adds another layer of protection between your user credentials and the bad guys by asking for another piece of information besides simply username and password.
How Two-Factor Authentication Works
Google Authenticator is but one of a handful of authentication apps on the market. Authenticator works by sharing an encrypted key between the Authenticator app on your phone and the website you want to log into. In order to sign into the account every time, you have to open the Authenticator app and copy the password as instructed.
Authenticator generates a new password every 30 seconds or so, turning your phone into a security key. A flaw was discovered early on that would allow a developer to use an API called MediaProjection to capture screenshots from Authenticator every time it was opened, thereby grabbing the one-time passwords.
As is to be expected, you have a handful of vendors to choose from, and the best support the most popular choices. Click for more.
How to Add Two-Factor Authentication to Your Accounts
There is a slight learning curve here, but nothing beyond a quick Google. And speaking of, for access to Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube and the rest of Googles application suite, head to your Google account page and then click Security. There you will find the two-factor option.
As the second authentication step, you can either use an authenticator app, have prompts appear on your registered phone, or have SMS codes sent to your cell number.
In the case of Apple accounts, your best option is to use an iPhone or a Mac to switch 2FA on. On iOS, from Settings, tap on your name, then select Password & Security and Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
On macOS, you need to start from System Preferences and then choose Apple ID, Password & Security, and Turn On Two-Factor Authentication. Verification codes can be sent via SMS, and they will appear on other devices using the same Apple ID that you have previously registered with 2FA.
If you head to the Security page inside your Microsoft account portal on the web, you can pick More security options and then Set up two-step verification to begin the process of turning it on. To get your secondary code when you sign in on a new device, you can use a phone number, an email address, or an authenticator app.