Why You Should Use Two-Step Authentication on Everything
December 11, 2018
We live in a digital age. We’re used to having multiple passwords for multiple social media accounts, e-mail accounts, online banking, and everything else in our life (hopefully you’re not using the same password for all of your accounts, because that’s a completely different conversation). Having digital accounts for all of these things is a great time-saver, say, if you want to pay a bill, or buy a movie- but it comes with an additional risk. Like anything else digital, it can be hacked or compromised. Luckily, most apps and websites are now offering what’s called Two-Step Authentication. I’m going to explain what that is, and why you should turn it on right away.
What is Two-Step Authentication?
Two-Step Authentication (also known as Two-Step Verification, or Two Factor Authentication, or 2FA for short) is very much what it sounds like: a two-step process that helps protect your account (be it your Instagram, Apple, Playstation account, or more). Once enabled, the next time someone attempts to log in to your account from a new or unknown device, you’ll receive a text message to your phone saying so, along with a numerical code that needs to be entered by that person to continue.
Two-Step Authentication will need to be set up on each app or website individually – so if you have an Apple account, and Instagram account, a Twitter account, and a Playstation account – you’ll have to set them up one by one on their respective devices (this is how the app will know which device to recognize moving forward).
Setup takes only a minute or two, and is worth the peace of mind to avoid a privacy breach.
Does Two-Step Authentication Work?
I set up Two-Step Authentication on my accounts when it became available, and since then, I’ve had a few attempts of someone trying to log into my Apple ID, and my Playstation account – all unsuccessful.
How do I know it works?
One morning, while at work, I received a text message with a verification code for my Sony Playstation account. Obviously, I was not at home to use my Playstation (and even if I was, it would recognize my device), so this was someone else trying to log in and use my account to most likely purchase games, movies, credits, etc.
Another instance was while I was at home – I received a notification on my iPhone stating that someone in China was attempting to log into my Apple ID. I was able to select that this wasn’t me and deny access.
Not every single app/device will have this feature available, but most of the commonly used ones do, including Facebook, Instagram, Google, and more.
What Should You do if Someone is Attempting to get into Your Account?
This feature was of great help to me already, with the examples above, but what should you do if this happens to you? To be safe, you should still change that account's password. You received the notification because the person attempting to log in was able to figure out your password, but was luckily stopped because they did not have the numeric code to continue.
Imagine if that second layer of security wasn’t there though. With only your password as the safeguard, a stranger who was able to figure out/crack your password could then access your account, either disabling it, purchasing items with your credit/debit card, or change the password themselves, locking you out and making you helpless to do anything but reach out to Support.
Okay, Where do I Sign Up?
Each app or website will have their own similar, yet quick process for setting up Two-Step Authentication on your specific device.
Here are a handful of helpful links to get you started with some of the most commonly used apps:
Apple ID: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204915
Sony Playstation: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/account-security/2-step-verification/
Don’t see one of your commonly used apps or sites on the list?
The best way to see if the option is available is to go to their website, check the Settings in that app, or visit https://twofactorauth.org/, a site with a full listing of websites and whether or not they support 2FA.
Stay safe out there!