Passwords — the dirty little secret is that no matter how many numb3rs you put in them or how many uPperCase-loweRcaSe combinations you use, they are vulnerable.
So, what can you do to better protect your information? The easiest way is to use two-factor authentication.
HOW DOES TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION WORK?
After you use your password, you will be asked to provide a second form of identification. You might need to access an app on your phone, input a one-time-use code from a text message or email, or, if you have one, use a hardware security key. The idea is that this other piece of identification is something that only you can access. For example, a hacker who has your iCloud password still won’t have your phone or the password to your email.
While two-factor authentication grants additional security, it isn’t foolproof. Verification through text message or email is the most common form, but those messages are also the easiest to crack by someone with time and dedication.
An app on your phone or a hardware key offers more protection, but you’re also stuck if you lose those devices. This usually means a call to customer service unless you remembered to save the backup codes that you can use to disable two-factor authentication, which, of course, you put in a safe, easy-to-remember location, right?
WHY MUST TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION BE SO ANNOYING?
Whether it’s waiting for that email or text to arrive or just having to input the passcode, it takes longer to access your account than when you’re using a single password.
Conversely, it seems not a week goes by without news of a data breach. The best way to approach the disruption caused by two-factor authentication is accepting it as the cost of doing business online.
HOW DO I START USING TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION?
For most of the consumer services that you use, turning on this extra layer is as easy as opting in. Most of the time, the option will be under security settings. On Facebook, for example, you would go to your settings, then select Security and Login. Once you are on that screen, you will see a box that allows you to turn on two-factor authentication. For Google, go to your account and click on Security. Then select 2-Step Verification.
Using two-factor authentication is simple, only mildly inconvenient and will help keep your private information secure. Why not give it a try?