What is Two Factor Authentication?

What it teaches:

Passwords alone may not be enough to keep criminals from accessing your sensitive online accounts and causing serious problems. Using a simple analogy of an offline storage company, this video explains Two Factor Authentication and why it matters. It teaches:

  • Why a second layer of security may be needed in addition to a password
  • Why two factor authentication is effective
  • How two factor authentication works
  • How to enable two factor authentication
  • What to expect when logging in with two factor authentication

Video Transcript:

So much of our lives are online today, and all that is protecting most of it is a simple password. If a criminal accesses or guesses it, they can steal your identity, take your money and more. That’s why many websites are offering an extra layer of security that prevents a stolen password from causing problems.

It’s called two factor, or multi-factor authentication. Just like it sounds, this type of security requires more than one type of information for accessing a website or app. Think about it like this…

Let’s imagine a storage building that contains bags of your money, photos of your family, important documents and more. For a long time, you could go to the entrance and provide a password to access your property. Your password was memorized which means it’s something that you know by heart.

This system worked for a while, but criminals started trying to guess passwords and the risk became too high. So the owner of the building added a new layer of security, another factor. Now, you go to the building and provide a password, just as before. But that only gets you to the lobby. To open your door, you now need a code.

This isn’t a code you know by heart. It’s something that you can only receive right when you need it. It’s another factor - something you have.

In this case, you can use an app on your phone that provides a code that is connected to the lock on your door. As long as you enter the code before it expires, you can enter the room.

This is the big idea behind two factor authentication. Knowing only one factor, your password, will only get a criminal into the lobby of your building. To get to your room, they would need a code that is only provided to your phone and expires quickly. That’s the second factor - a code that you have.

Today, more and more websites and apps are offering two factor authentication. It’s usually a feature you have to enable for your account at no cost. The site or app will provide instructions on how to access the codes. Some systems send text messages, others use a free app like Google Authenticator.

The next time you log in, you’ll enter a username and password you know. Then, the site will ask for your authentication code. In most cases, you’ll use your phone or device to access the code and enter it to complete the login.

Two Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication is a much more secure method for keeping your personal information safe. To help keep criminals out of your online life, enable it on accounts where it is offered.


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