Extra Layer of Online Security

A simple tool that offers an extra layer of protection online.–PC Pitstop

Extra Layer of Online Security

by Bob Rankin

Some security tips bear repetition. I’ve been beating the drum for two-factor authentication for several years. I know, it sounds geeky, but it’s actually a simple tool that can protect you even if a hacker steals all your passwords. Here’s what you need to know…

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

It goes by many names… Sometimes it’s referred to as “2FA,” “two-step verification,” “login approval,” or “enhanced login security.” Bottom line, it’s a big improvement on the username/password method of gaining access to online accounts.

Two-factor authentication makes it much more difficult (if not impossible) for someone to hack into your online accounts, even if they have your password. That’s because a password is just one factor used to prove (authenticate) that you are who you say you are. The other authentication factor will be quite different.

A username, such as JSmith419, is who you claim to be. In order to authenticate that claim, you may provide a password which, in theory, only the real JSmith419 knows. That’s one-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires two out the following three types of authentication factors:

2FA – Two Factor Authentication
Something you know (e.g., a password)
Something you have (e.g., a mobile phone)
Something that is part of you (e.g., a fingerprint)

Passwords and mobile phones have become the preferred pair of factors for two-factor authentication. To use two-factor authentication methods 1 and 2, you might register your phone number with an online service such as Gmail, Facebook or your bank. Then, each time you enter your username and password, the service sends a text message (or an automated voice call) to that phone number, containing a unique one-time code that you must type in to be fully authenticated.

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