Two-Factor Authentication For An Added Layer of Security

October 28, 2017 / Published in Information

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Small business owners are juggling several tasks at any given point in time. They are constantly trying to check things off their ever-growing to-do list. The lesser the tasks they must worry about finishing, the better. One such important task is keeping tabs on the security of the accounts they access online, like their bank account, email, social media and so on. This is where two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA comes into play. Despite it’s extremely technical sounding name, 2FA is easy to set up and helpful in adding an extra layer of security to our online accounts.

  • What is two-factor authentication (2FA) anyway?
  • From as Apple, Google, etc. to banks and financial institutions, access to all online accounts now comes with a two-factor authentication. So, what is two-factor authentication or 2FA? Simply put, 2FA is a feature wherein a Personal Identification Number (PIN) is sent to a user’s phone every time, they (or their employee) logs into an account online. So, in addition to entering password, one must also enter the PIN sent to account holder’s phone. Only when the PIN and password are both provided, the user can access the account.

  • Why should I set up a 2FA?
  • In today’s digital era, we cannot be too careful when it comes to safeguarding our identity and other details associated with our online accounts. 2FA allows for an additional layer of security to keep our information safe. Passwords can be hacked or even guessed. But when coupled with 2FA, knowing a password alone is not sufficient to gain access. So, let’s say that somebody logs into an account using a password. When that happens, the site they are logging into, sends a message to the account holder’s phone containing a PIN. Without that PIN, which is visible only to the owner of the phone, it wouldn’t be possible to gain access to the account. So, even if someone correctly guesses a password, they won’t be able to sign into an account without the PIN. Additionally, the PIN notification sent to the user’s phone also alerts them of the fact that someone is trying to access their account. Thus, setting up 2FA helps in increasing security, reducing the risk of fraud, and ensuring an overall secure online experience.

  • Is it tedious to set up a 2FA?
  • 2FA is not at all tedious to set up and in most cases, could be enabled via simply checking a box at sign-in. Thus, upon logging into an account, the website presents the user with an option to enable 2FA. If the user agrees to it simply by checking the box, 2FA is enabled. The user’s phone number is validated before that happens to ensure that the phone number corresponds with the account holder. Most services also have customer service representatives that walk account holders through the process of setting up 2FA. Ideally, the entire process of setting up 2FA takes lesser than five minutes.

  • For which accounts should you use a 2FA?
  • When it comes to online accounts, no amount of security is enough and so, 2FA should be enabled for all online accounts. However, at the minimum a 2FA should be enabled for:
    - Online banking
    - Online purchases on eBay, Amazon, etc.
    - Email accounts
    - Social media accounts
    - Management applications such as Evernote, etc.
    - Communication applications such as Skype
    Typically, these are the types of online accesses, that could be misused to steal the account owner’s personal information and even their identity. So, at the minimum, these accounts should be secured with a 2FA.

  • Is 2FA 100% secure?
  • As with anything else in the world of Information Technology, nothing is 100% secure. However, by enabling 2FA, we are making it a lot harder for hackers to gain access. This is because, the only way a hacker can get the PIN, is if they have access to your phone. And we know ideally this is not possible, since our phone is with us almost all the time!

    To conclude, we can say that there’s nothing as being too careful when it comes to online security for our accounts and transactions. Enabling 2FA can help busy business owners with keeping tabs on the security of their online accounts. 2FA is free, easy, convenient and can save business owners lot of aggravation. Have you set up 2FA? If you have how has your experience been with using 2FA? Let us know in the comments section below.

    A penny for your thoughts!