What is two-factor authentication, and should I enable it?

Have you ever found yourself logged out of your Facebook or other social media account? Are you worried someone will hack into any of your most-used websites, especially if you store payment information there?

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Two-factor authentication is the best protection against any of those, plus so much more. I’ll explain what it is and why you should enable it whenever possible.

What is two-factor authentication?

Sometimes called 2-factor authentication, or: 2FA:, two-factor authentication uses at least one backup method as protection when you’re logging in somewhere. You often just need a username or email address and a password to sign in to the websites and apps where you store all kinds of personal information. 2FA adds a step that hopefully makes it harder for hackers to get that information.

Your Amazon account may have multiple credit cards on file and your and all of your family members’ addresses. If someone is able to access that account with just your email and a common password, they will have access to not only your personal information, but also your money.

Two-factor authentication has become a standard security setting in the workplace, as offices want to provide extra protection on company-owned devices, especially outside the workplace as remote jobs continue to grow in popularity. Now, you can also set up two-factor authentication on all of your popular social media websites and other commonly used sites like major banks.

How does two-factor authentication work?

Once you’ve logged into the website you’d like to set up 2FA on, you can choose a backup method where you’ll have to approve any login.

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For example, picture your Amazon account. If you don’t want anyone on a new device to be able to log in to your Amazon account using just your email and password, you’ll want to set up two-factor authentication. Then you’ll choose a backup method, like receiving a text with a code anytime someone tries to log in from a new device.

How to set up two-step verification on Amazon.

How to set up two-step verification on Amazon.
(Kurt Knutsson for Fox News)

Why should I enable two-factor authentication?

While it might seem annoying to follow a few extra steps to log in to any of your major accounts, it’s worth it to protect your information from anyone else. Two-factor authentication means you have to approve a login on one of your approved devices or via a method like texting, which makes it much harder for hackers to log in to any of your accounts.

Two-factor authentication often means getting a text message like this on your phone.

Two-factor authentication often means getting a text message like this on your phone.
(Kurt Knutsson for Fox News)

It can take less than a few minutes to set up two-factor authentication on each of these accounts, like your Facebook account. Search “Facebook privacy” for my step-by-step to reign in your privacy at CyberGuy.com.

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You should set up 2FA on any account where you have saved financial information. This includes your bank, shopping apps, as well as any social media app. You can search “email privacy” to learn how to set up two-factor authentication. Just type in the web address field “CyberGuy.com” to get going.

What are the risks with 2-factor authentication?

Some common scams take advantage of how used to 2FA we are getting, Scammers have been known to trick you into giving codes you receive via text or app over the phone. Be sure to only use codes you receive for websites you’re logging into, and never share a code you receive with anyone else – especially someone over the phone.

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