Keep Your Accounts Secure With Two-Factor Authentication
Passwords. If you think they are enough to protect your accounts, think again. Or even better – continue reading and learn how to use two-factor authentication everywhere you can.
There’s absolutely no reason to ignore this security feature as it is by now one of the best ways to keep your accounts safe from hackers and other snoopers. And what is more – it is available on many account services, such as Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive and popular social networks.
What Does Two-Factor Authentication Do?
Basically it ads an extra security layer to your account, meaning that hackers won’t be able to intercept any of your data even if they discover your carefully created password. To access an account protected with 2FA (two-factor authentication), you need two different elements: something you know (for example your password) and something you have (e.g, your fingerprint).
With this feature enabled, every time you want to log in to your account, you will be asked to enter your password (as usual) and a code that is sent to your mobile phone via a text message. So if anyone ever tries to snoop into your account, they will need to have access to your phone or other device as well.
How is it Different from Two-Step Verification?
Although two-step verification also offers some additional level of protection, it doesn’t necessarily require the “something you have” part. In order to access your account when 2SV is on, you can use either two USB security keys or two passwords or a combination of a password and a security question.
When your account is secured with two-step verification, you have to enter your password first and then choose the second step. As you will read later, there are a couple of them.
The main difference between these two is pretty simple:
-if you use 2FA, the bad guy who wants to hack your account will have to pull off two types of theft: they will need to steal your physical device (“something you have”) and somehow acquire your knowledge (“something you know”);
-if you enable 2SV, the hacker will need to commit one type of crime, just multiple times. For example, he will steal your password and the answer to your security question (“something you know”).
Although both of these security measures add an additional level of safety to your account and should be used wherever possible, two factor authentication offers more security benefits. Needless to say – any form of protection is better than having none. Now it is time to dig deeper and find out how to enhance your security on the most popular websites and social networks.
How to Enable 2FA or 2SV?
To turn two-factor authentication on your Instagram account, open the app, go to your profile, tap on the gear icon for “Options”, select “Two-Factor Authentication” and then “Require security code”.
Having this security feature enabled, you will also get a few backup codes for keeping, just in case you lose access to your device or ever decide to change your phone number.
Although Twitter calls its security system “Login Verification”, it is actually the same thing as two-factor authentication.
To activate Login Verification on Twitter, click on your profile icon in the upper right-corner of the page, select “Settings” and then “Security and privacy”. Once you are there, click on your “Account” settings and check “Verify login requests” in the “Security” section.
Now you only have to enter your Twitter password and confirm your phone number. Shortly afterwards you will receive a text message with your verification code. Enter the code and tap “Submit”.
You will be also provided with a backup code so that you can use it in case you forget your device at home or have it stolen.
Remember that after the login verification is enabled, you need to create a temporary password to access your Twitter account on other devices or applications, except iOS, Android and mobile.twitter.com.
To do this, go back to your “Security” settings, click “Generate app password” and follow a few simple steps to generate a temporary password. Note that it will expire in an hour so you will have to create a new password next time.
To set up two-factor authentication on your Facebook account, go to “Settings” and select “Security and Login”. Scroll till you reach “Setting Up Extra Security” and select “Use two-factor authentication”.
Proceed by choosing the authentication method you prefer and follow further instructions to turn your extra protection on.
You can select as many authentication methods as you wish, but you need to have at least one of these turned on:
1.Text message codes from your phone
2.Security key and Code Generator
Once you are done, go back to “Setting Up Extra Security” and choose 3 to 5 friends who can help in case you lose access to your account. When in need, one of your allies will be able to send you a recovery code you can use to log in.
To turn two-step verification on your professional network, go straight to your Account Settings, choose “Privacy” and scroll down to “Security”.
You will be asked to enter a phone number and your password to receive the confirmation code you need to proceed. Verify your request and voila! – it’s done. Note that unlike many other services, LinkedIn does not give you any backup codes, meaning that you won’t be able to access your account if by any chance you lose your phone.
Google’s 2SV is often confused with 2FA, because here you also need to use both – your knowledge (password) and something you own (your device). However, from a security perspective, your phone is actually not “something you have”, but “something you know”. This is because the hacker needs not your device in particular, but the code that you receive, memorize and type in to log in. That means they only need to hack you on two different devices, rather than steal the device itself.
To activate two-step verification on your Google account, go to the “Sign-in & security” section. Once you enter your password and set up your phone number, you will receive a 6-digit verification code. Enter the code and continue to the second step.
You can either stay with the default option and receive your security codes via text or voice messages, get the Google prompt to make your verifications quicker or use their “Authenticator” app.
With the Google prompt, you won’t need typing verification codes each time you want to access your account. Instead, you will receive a notification asking if it’s really you trying to log in. Simply tap “Yes” and you’re in.
Back to your 2-step verification settings, you can also select additional backup options.
Now it may be a good idea to go through all your accounts (Amazon, Dropbox, Yahoo, PayPal, etc.) and put that extra security layer on as well. The majority of popular services provide either two factor authentication or two step verification to their customers and there are also a number of specialized apps, such as Authy or Duo Mobile, designed for the same purpose. In case you are not sure whether a specific website has 2FA or 2SV feature or not, you can quickly check it here.
Related: Tips for Creating Strong Passwords
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