What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

In today's cyber landscape, having just one strong password on an account just isn't enough. While we can do a lot to improve the strength of our passwords, having Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is critical to take that security to the next level.

When it comes to cybersecurity, the terms and acronyms thrown around by professionals can seem confusing, making the entire concept of security a daunting one to understand. Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, can be one of those terms. Simply put, it is the process of using not one method of securing your information, but two. Pretty simple, right?

In today’s cyber landscape, having one strong password just isn’t enough. The extra level of security that 2FA provides can be the difference between losing your data and saving your hide.

It isn’t as complicated as it may sound, though. Many website and applications give you the option to set up 2FA on your account.

two factor authentication

Here’s how it works:

Your credentials fall into one of three categories:

  • something you know – such as a password or passcode
  • something you have – such as a smart card
  • or something you are – like a fingerprint or face scan

So, for example, if you have 2FA set up on your Facebook account, you could type in your password as one form of identification, then receive a text message with a code for your second form of authentication.

With 2FA a potential hack or compromise of your data will be stopped when the hacker cannot verify the second form of security. They may obtain your credentials, but the extra layer will protect your data where other’s may not be so fortunate in a breach. With 2FA acting as an additional security layer, it becomes more difficult for a hacker to log into your accounts as if they were you. For a hacker to successfully get into your account with 2FA enabled, they would need to steal not only your password, but also your phone or other layers of security like your smartcard as well.

Next time that you login to a secure site and are asked if you’d like to setup this security feature – do it! That extra layer is going to go a long way in keeping your data and information safe.

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Tracy Hardin

Tracy Hardin is President and founder of Next Century Technologies in Lexington, KY. She has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky and has earned certifications from Novell, Cisco and CompTIA. Her specialties in the field of IT are network design and security, project management and improving productivity through technology. She loves helping people by sharing her knowledge of tech.