There’s a reason why people use the same passwords repeatedly. Sure, we know it puts us in danger of being hacked; we know the experts say not to–but how hard is it to keep coming up with passwords between six and eight letters, no spaces, one symbol, three numbers… let alone remember it next time you must log in!
That’s why clever businesses have started using two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is basically a second identity check that makes sure you’re the authorised account holder–and it keeps your accounts and services safe from hackers and prying eyes.
Do I really need more than just a password?
Passwords alone are easier to hack than you may think. We choose passwords that are simple and easy to remember, like our pets’ names and our date of birth, and we use the same ones over and over.
Sure, we could use password managers to help us store unique passwords, but few of us do. Besides, who’s going to want to hack me?
Well, it’s not just your own systems you need to be concerned with. Hackers have managed to get into the databases of banks and global companies that literally have teams of cyber-security experts on staff.
2FA makes sure that even if hackers get some of your details, they’ll find it difficult to access your account or service.
How does 2FA work?
Chances are, you’re probably already using 2FA on many of your accounts. When you log in, some companies will send a unique code that is only valid for a short period to your mobile phone; others will ask a pre-arranged question, like what was the name of your primary school.
The 2FA you have probably been using for years is the requirement to enter the CVC on the back of your credit card when you make an online payment.
Who should use 2FA?
The simple answer is everyone. Yes, it may seem like an annoying extra step, but speak to anyone who has had money stolen, purchases made on their cards, or had their lives turned upside down by identity theft and they will tell you they wish they’d had–and used–increased security.
If you have any password-protected accounts with apps, organisations or services that offer 2FA, use it. It is your best defence against the ever-growing risk of the illegal and potentially devastating activity.