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Two-Factor Authentication for Anyone Who’s Not Very Tech-Savvy

January 31, 2022 No Comments

Featured article by Susan Melony, Independent Technology Author

Two factor authentication with phone email security key and pass

Even if you don’t work in the IT industry, it pays to know a bit about it. That’s because if you own a company or work for one, you will probably need to know somewhat about technology. Maybe you use apps, computers, servers, etc., as part of your daily life.

Two-factor authentication is an IT concept you should know about if you have never heard of it before. This article will serve as a two-factor authentication beginner’s guide. We will get into a bit of detail about this concept, which some IT professionals abbreviate as 2FA.

What is 2FA?

Two-factor authentication is a kind of electronic authentication method. It’s similar to multi-factor authentication. However, as the name indicates, two-factor authentication lets you access a tech resource by confirming your identity in two ways.

Multi-factor authentication might require three authentications or more. If you work in a government building, for instance, maybe you’ll have to confirm your identity in several different ways. You might need to scan your thumbprint or let a machine read your iris.

With 2FA, a user can access a site or app after presenting two pieces of evidence that confirm who they are. It uses a formula those in the IT field sometimes call an authentication mechanism. It has three parts: inherence, possession, and knowledge.

The 2FA system is not foolproof, but it works pretty well. That is why so many businesses use it these days.

Where Might You Encounter 2FA?

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself at this point, “I’ve never heard of this 2FA thing before. I’ve never even seen one.” Don’t be so sure of that.

If you own an iPhone, you will require two-factor authentication to access it. The factors that authenticate your identity might include facial recognition software and your six-digit passcode. That is far from the only place you may encounter 2FA, though.

If you use Facebook, now known as Meta, you will utilize 2FA to see what your friends are doing. You will use it to access Instagram or other social media platforms. If you try to access your online bank account through a laptop, desktop, or app, you will probably need to type in your username and password.

Those are the two factors that confirm your identity. However, if you want to log in from an unfamiliar device, you might need an additional confirmation factor. The bank may send a numerical code to your phone or email that you need to type in before you can check out how much money you have in your savings account.

Why Do So Many Entities Use 2FA Now?

If you think about it, you can likely figure out why 2FA is so popular and appears in many industries. It’s for security. If you try to access someone’s account or enter a restricted area, you will not be able to do so with one access element alone. You will need both of them to get to your destination.

If you do not have two-factor authentication in place, that’s asking for trouble. Even two-factor authentication that wants your user ID and password is not ideal.

Biometric indicators that businesses and devices use to grant access are much more secure than numeric codes and IDs that someone might steal. If you’re in a coffee shop or another public place, a hacker or some other dishonest individual might glance over as you type in your user ID and password. They’re much less likely to access a bank account or open your iPhone if you misplace it if you use facial recognition technology.

2FA as Part of a Larger IT World

In IT, it’s unusual to encounter a concept that does not fit into the larger landscape. 2FA is no exception. 2FA is part of IAM, or identity and access management.

2FA can be a big part of your IAM security solution, but it should not comprise all of it. You might think of 2FA as part of what keeps your company and employees safe, but there are additional layers you’ll want to add, especially if you have trade secrets you want to guard.

Frankly, even if you don’t have any trade secrets, you need IAM in place because a hacker who accesses your system can always crash your website. They can steal customer data, such as their home addresses, credit card numbers, and more. They might also steal employee information, such as bank account routing numbers, if you’ve set up a direct deposit system to pay your workers.

Companies also need 2FA or multi-factor authentication as part of IAM to comply with various programs that monitor them. Frequently, entities exist that watch over companies to ensure they have minimum security requirements in place.

If you don’t spend some money on 2FA or multi-factor authentication, you might face a data leak, but fines are also possible. You won’t want to deal with any of that, so a cash outlay that results in a modern 2FA system is something in which you’ll need to invest.

Learning to Live with 2FA

Whether you use 2FA or multi-factor authentication in your work or private life, or both, having it there should make you feel safer. It will make a company’s employees feel better about working there, and it often means shoppers are more willing to give you their credit card numbers. If you have a website that sells goods or provides services, we can’t stress how crucial 2FA is to install.

Having it in place should also not slow you down too much. If you use a home computer to do remote work, for instance, it’s a simple matter to enter the authentication factors every morning that will allow you to access your company’s software suite. You also shouldn’t mind using 2FA to access a social media account or use your iPhone or Android device.

Now, you know some 2FA basics if you ever hear someone from your IT department mention the term.

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