Multi-factor authentication (MFA) also known as two-factor authentication (2FA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts.
How does 2FA work?
By adding one more step when logging into an account, multi-factor authentication greatly increases the security of your account. Here’s how it works. Just like logging into your account, the first step is giving your password or passphrase. The second step is to provide an extra way of proving that you’re you, like entering a PIN code or texting/emailing a code to your mobile device, or accessing an authenticator app.
2FA can include:
- An extra PIN (personal identification number)
- The answer to an extra security question like, “What’s your favorite pet’s name?”
- An additional code either emailed to an account or texted to a mobile number
- A biometric identifier like facial recognition or a fingerprint
- A unique number generated by an “Authenticator App”
- A secure token, which is a separate piece of hardware (like a key fob that holds information) that verifies a person’s identity with a database or system
What type of accounts offer 2FA?
Not every account offers 2FA, but it’s becoming more popular every day. It’s seen on many accounts that usually hold either valuable financial or personal information like banks, financial institutions, online stores, or social media platforms. Any place online that is storing your personal information (especially financial information), or any account that can be compromised and used to trick or defraud someone else should be protected with MFA. So, basically everything. Simply put, use MFA everywhere!