What the Tech? Do You Need 2 Step Authentication to Protect your Accounts?
Thursday was World Password Day. It doesn’t come with free coffee or donuts at participating retailers but it does serve as a reminder to check the passwords you use for critical accounts and change them if necessary.
One of the best ways to protect your accounts from bad actors is 2-factor authentication. That’s a mouthful that’s hard to say so Google is beginning to call this security measure 2-step verification. I’ll try to explain what it is and how to use it.
Facebook, Google, Dropbox, LinkedIn and other platforms encourage users to turn on or enable 2-step verification. Sometimes it’ll pop up when you open one of those accounts but you’ll likely need to go into settings to find it.
Once 2FA is turned on it will require you to use two forms of identification whenever you log-into your account. One step or factor is your password. The other can either be through a text or email message and a secret 6 digit code, a prompt to verify your account using an authentication app or with a fingerprint scanner.
I personally like the latter as my biometric information is as unique as it can be. Yubico and Google both sell the fingerprint keys that fit onto a keychain.
When prompted you’ll either insert the key into the device’s charging port or tap it on the back of your phone. On a computer, you’ll plug it into a USB input. Then, just tap or touch the scanner which will verify you are who you say you are.
Using 2-factor authentication or 2-step verification will require any bad actor to not only know your password but have access to your phone or computer. If you have a key, they’ll need your finger.
I’m not suggesting you continue to use weak passwords but the 2nd “factor” will make it nearly impossible for a bad guy to login to one of your accounts.
And don’t worry, you won’t have to use it every time you open the Facebook, Gmail or LinkedIn app, you’ll only need it when you’ve been logged out and are logging in again or if you’re using a device you haven’t used before.
Google announced this week it is turning on 2-step verification by default so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the privacy feature when it rolls out to everyone.