Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a method used to verify a user's identity when trying to access an application. In addition to a password, 2FA requires you to provide a second piece of information to confirm your identity.
One of the most well-known examples of 2FA is when you try to log into a familiar website from a different machine or from a different location. With 2FA-enabled login procedures, you will first enter your username and password on the computer and then receive a text message to your phone providing you with a verification code. You must enter that verification code on the computer to complete the login procedure. This process is much more secure than the archaic version that simply has you answer some security questions. Questions that hackers can easily find the answer to.
What are the different factors of Two-Factor Authentication?
- Something You Know- This is the most familiar. It requires a person to enter information that they know in order to gain access to their account. The combination of a username and a password is the prime example, but things like security questions fall under this category too. Your banking system commonly uses this factor when asking you to complete security questions like your mother's maiden name.
- Something You Have- Something you have can be a separate email account or phone to which a verification code can be sent. Receiving a verification code that you must enter to sign into your google account when logging on from a friends computer is an example of the second factor.
The second piece of information used in 2FA is extremely hard to acquire. That’s because it’s something unique to the user, often something they possess, like a smartphone or fingerprint.
Hacking a password is extremely easy, but obtaining a physical device that generates the second code or stealing biological features is not as easy, which is why 2FA is one of the most effective security approaches available.
Whenever Two-Factor Authentication is offered, please use it!