Two-factor authentications (2FA) also known as multiple-step verification is the process by which user’s identity is double-checked to determine their legitimacy. In other words, to determine if you are entitled to accessing the information in question. 2FA is beyond a username and password. For example, in most cases, an online account holder will be required to present a password in order to access their accounts but in the case of Two-factor authentications (2FA), one requires to have more than just a password. Two-factor authentications (2FA) is a guarantee that authenticating to services, such as online banking or ATM machines is done in a very secure manner. It is the most effective protection against account takeovers or breaches.
No matter how complex passwords are it is never enough to prevent account take over because all is needed is phishing your email or database export and your password is out in the world. If passwords are hard to protect on their own, what do we do? This is when 2FA comes in. Two factor authentication has 3 factors/means/characters as mentioned below;
- Something you know: This could be a password, pin, or a signature. It is not ideal since signatures can be forged and passwords hacked. This is also known as a one-factor authentication which is used by most of us.
- Something you are: These include a biometric pattern of a fingerprint, an iris scan, or a voiceprint, These are great and difficult to intercept.
- Something you have: Typically, a user would have something in their possession, like a credit card, a smartphone, or a small hardware token Bankcard, phone, or key.
What are authentication factors?
There are several different ways in which someone can be authenticated using more than one authentication method. Currently, most authentication methods rely on knowledge factors, such as a traditional password and usernames required.
- A knowledge factor is something the user knows, such as a password, a PIN (personal identification number), or some other type of shared secret.
- A possession factor is something the user has, such as an ID card, a security token, a cellphone, a mobile device, or a smartphone app, to approve authentication requests.
- An inherence factor, more commonly called a biometric factor, is something inherent in the user’s physical self.
- A location factor, usually denoted by the location from which an authentication attempt is being made, can be enforced by limiting authentication attempts to specific devices in a particular location or, more commonly, by tracking the geographic source of an authentication attempt based on the source Internet Protocol (IP) address or some other geolocation information, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) data, derived from the user’s mobile phone or another device.
- A time factor restricts user authentication to a specific time window in which logging on is permitted and restricts access to the system outside of that window (source: https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/two-factor-authentication).
Having at least 2 of these factors adds up to two factor authentication which increases security of an online account. It is important to apply 2FA to all your important accounts. Common examples of 2FA verification include security questions, SMS (short messaging services) and push notification.
The use of SMS for two- factor authentication has become a popular security tool for many businesses that offer online service. A well- known example is the two-step verification required when signing into a Google account. Activation this feature means that whenever you sign into your google account, you are required to enter your primary password as well as a one-time password that is sent to your phone via a text, voice call, or via the mobile app.
There are various phone-based 2FA providers like; Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, PayPal, LinkedIn to mention but a few. Setting up the 2FA on these providers is an easy process. Let me show you steps on how to on Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail.
How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication
How to turn 2FA on Gmail.
- Open your Google account.
- In the navigation panel, select security.
- Under “signing in to Google”, select 2-step verification. Get started.
- Follow the on-screen steps.
How to turn 2FA on Facebook
- In the top menu, tap your profile icon, then tap Settings and privacy.
- Tap Account, then tap Security.
- Tap Two-factor authentication.
- There are two methods to choose from Text message or Authentication app.