With the introduction of the internet, access to unlimited information became available at your fingertips. Now we have digital accounts for everything, from posting your latest cat videos to buying $40,000,000 jets . Traditionally, you would access these accounts by entering a username, which was often public information, and a password. Unfortunately, this combination is often inadequate to ensure that the person who logged in to the account is who they say they are.
Now, many security-conscious applications, especially those dealing with financial transactions and information, have introduced multi-factor (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA). Advancements in technology have allowed this to become far less burdensome than it was years ago, combining your standard account log in processes with another means of verifying that the person logging in is actually who they claim to be. Usually, this consists of a knowledge factor that only the user logging in knows, like a password, and a possession factor which is something that the user logging in physically has to prove it is them such as a mobile phone, a hardware device such as a YubiKey, or even biometrics such as fingerprint/voice/facial recognition.
In cases like online banking, these additional security measures are required by the service provider or regulators. However, many popular web services have this as an optional feature that is deactivated by default. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and many other companies that store a lot of your personal information have the capability for you to turn this feature on. There’s even a website called Authy that gives you step by step instructions for activating this feature on your favorite sites.
Enabling these security features can help keep your data secure and prevent identity theft. So the next time you log in to your accounts, check and see if this security featured is offered, and enjoy accessing your accounts with the peace of mind that even if your password is somehow compromised, your account is still secure.
For tips on how to create a strong password, read “Password Mania” and “How Secure Are Your Passwords?”
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