Two-Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security designed to protect your accounts. Too many people think it’s a bother.
From time to time, I talk about security and give layman’s advice you should consider. Like strengthening your password and avoiding common security questions on social media, here’s another you should consider. If you don’t already have two-factor authentication active on your account, you should. Right now.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, sounds very technical. But don’t let the long name scare you. It simply means you go through one extra step when you log in to your account.
As a general rule, that step involves getting a six or eight-digit code via email or text message when you log in. You can decide which method you prefer. As an alternative, you can rely on an app like Google Authenticator. That app generates a six-digit alpha-numeric code that changes often. When you log in to social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, after you enter your username and password, you are prompted for a code. You open the app and get the code for that platform. You enter it before it expires (or wait for the next one to appear).
Why two-factor authentication gives you an advantage
With 2FA, your account becomes more secure. Why? Well, that’s simple. If someone manages to steal your password, they can gain access to your account without 2FA. But if you enable it, someone can steal your password but still won’t be able to access your account unless they also either have your smartphone or your email credentials. (If you let yourself get hacked to that degree, you probably deserve to lose access.) But without that 2FA code, that stolen password becomes meaningless.
Platforms like Facebook are becoming more determined that their users enable 2FA. In fact, Facebook has been notifying Page administrators that they’ll have to enable it or risk losing access to their own pages. (That’s pages, not profiles.)
Beyond a more secure account, 2FA can spare you a bit of heartache. A colleague recently had her Twitter account hacked. Without 2FA, even going through a corporate office who has some degree of direct contact with Twitter, you’re looking at a delay of up to two months to get Twitter’s humans to step in and reclaim the account.
Yes, humans do work at these big social media companies. But unless you have some really strong connections — and most of us don’t — the chances that you’ll ever encounter one are slim to none.
If nothing else, 2FA, while an extra step in the process, can save you a lot of grief at exactly the moment you don’t have time for grief.
If you haven’t activated two-factor authentication, you need to rethink that…sooner rather than later.