Multi-factor authentication—it might sound fancy, but it’s actually one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take to better secure your data. It’s simply a security process that requires you to use multiple methods of authentication to verify that you are who you say you are. That’s it.
Multi-Factor Authentication: More Common Than You Realize
You actually use multi-factor authentication all the time, whether you realize it or not. Every time you enter the PIN number for your debit card, you’re participating in multi-factor authentication. You see, the first step of authentication is simply having the card in your possession—that implies that you are who you say you are, or at least that you have permission to use the card from the owner. The second step is the PIN number that goes with it.
There’s an endless list of examples you most likely use all the time, but here are the basic authentication types in a nutshell:
Something you know—PIN number, zip code, password, etc.
Something you have—phone, credit card, fob, etc.
Something you are—a biometric such as a fingerprint, face, voice scan, etc.
If you’ve ever answered a security question about your mom’s maiden name, opened your phone with your face, or struggled to click every box with a car in it, you’ve participated in multi-factor authentication and probably didn’t even notice.
Why You Need It
In a world of misused and leaked data, doing everything you can to keep your information safe is just smart. This extra step of security requires very little effort, but goes a long way in keeping your data safe.
The most common form of multi-factor authentication is something you’ve probably participated in a lot—you enter a password to login to a site, and then receive a text with a verification code you have to enter. This incredibly simple security measure makes it much harder for a hacker to steal your information, because they would have to first steal your password, then steal or hack your phone for the verification code. These text codes are called 2FA codes, and can only be used one time. By receiving a different code each time (an extra step that requires no effort from you), your data is much safer—and it only takes a few seconds of your time. Most phones have a feature that can automatically enter the code from your texts, so there’s no repeating the numbers out loud until you get back to the login screen.
In addition to these kinds of authentication measures, there are also specific apps dedicated solely to multi-factor authentication like Google Authenticator, Authy, and DuoMobile. You can explore these options too—just make sure your business accounts are all backed by this easy, but very important, security process. It only takes a few extra seconds each time you login, but will go to great lengths in protecting your data.
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