A person is typing in a code on their phone to allow access to their account on their computer. When you wake up in the morning, one of the first things you probably do is check your cell phone for notifications, read the news, or browse social media while you get ready for your day. Maybe you boot up your laptop to pay a few bills, and then you hop over to your favorite online shopping outlet to make a purchase.

Every website you visit has the same login information to remember it more efficiently, or maybe you’ve saved all your information right to your desktop. Despite having a username and password, each of these seemingly secure accounts on the websites you use every day presents opportunities for cybercriminals to steal your data.

You may feel very at ease using your online accounts because you are so familiar with the internet, and it’s part of your daily experiences. Still, now more than ever, you want to be vigilant about protecting your data. If you are a person who has accounts set up online, credit cards stored on your favorite shopping websites, or even someone who uses online banking, you should have two-factor authentication.

As IT professionals, we at Monroy IT Services care very much about the safety and security of your activities and accounts online. All it takes is one cybercriminal to access your data, wipe out your bank accounts, steal your identity, or compromise your credit cards. With two-factor authentication, you have more robust security, and you can feel safer when you enter your data online.

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What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

Standard username and password logins, the kind most people are familiar with, are a type of one-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is easy to understand if you think of it from this standpoint— it adds an extra layer of security by tacking one more step onto the login process. It grants you access to your accounts through two stages; verifying something you know (a password) and getting permission from a trusted device you have access to (like a cell phone app).

Some different apps or processes act as two-factor authenticators, and many websites give you the option to turn 2FA on if you would like it for your account. One of the more common examples of 2FA is PayPal’s system.

Suppose you set up your account with two-factor authentication. When you log in to PayPal, they send you a text with a code that you must type into the login screen before proceeding. This second step ensures that you are the only person who can use your PayPal account.

You may also already utilize 2FA at work, especially if you are working remotely. Some workplaces have begun instituting a 2-step verification process for logging into work-owned devices to ensure it is only you using the equipment and accessing the business’s data. This step helps keep the company’s data secure and can give the business owner a bit more peace of mind that their employees are using their equipment safely.

An image of a password that has been starred out so you can’t see it.

Passwords Don’t Cut It Anymore

But why do we need two-factor authentication? Many people are hesitant to start using two-factor authentication for their accounts. They perceive it as a hassle or complicated and think, “shouldn’t my passwords be enough to protect my information?”

The answer is, “no, your passwords are only your first line of security defense. You need more protection.”

Passwords are supposed to help protect your data and other sensitive information, but many people are lax with their password strength and rely on the same password across multiple websites. Because of these practices, a hacker only needs access to one account before they have the password for many of your other accounts.

With two-factor authentication, that extra step helps keep your information secure, so even if they find a password, you will have to confirm it’s you logging in each time. This extra security will make the hacker’s job significantly harder and a data breach less likely.

What Kinds of Two-Factor Authentication Are There?

Two-factor authentication can work with your preferences and what fits your needs best because there are several different ways to incorporate it into your login process. Here are some of the more common types:

  • Two-Factor Authenticator Apps for Mobile Phones—These are common and easy to use for many people. These apps allow you to link your accounts, so when you try to log in, you confirm that you are attempting to access that account, usually through a “yes” button or a confirmation code that may appear as a push notification.
  • Computer Software 2FA—Computer software 2FAs generate new codes every time you log in. Many of these software services will allow you to copy the code directly and paste it into the browser.
  • Hardware Tokens— Hardware tokens are small devices that give you a one-time passcode for logins. Because they are a physical object, not just an app or code generator on your phone, some people find these the least convenient type of 2FA.
  • Text Notification Code—Sometimes called a verification code or a passkey, these codes appear on your phone or another device, and then you type the code into the login screen. Many people find these extraordinarily convenient and easy to incorporate into their login routines.

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Why Is 2FA Important?

Two-factor authentication is necessary because it gives you extra protection in a world where things are increasingly happening online. More data than ever before exists behind usernames and passwords. This protection is essential for business owners, but it is also crucial to keeping everyone’s information safe as our lives increasingly trend toward digitalization.

2FA is crucial for keeping your business and customer data safe if you run a business. We know you care about having top-notch security services from your IT team, and that means taking all the steps you can to always keep your information out of cyber criminals’ hands. 2FA can help with that!

Is 2FA 100% Secure?

Unfortunately, nothing is completely secure, but using two-factor authentication works to increase your account securely online to a level higher than it is now. Think of this extra feature as a security system on your home—it adds peace of mind and can be a way to alert yourself if there is something amiss about one of your accounts.

Two-factor authentication is like an alarm. If you use your phone as your 2FA device and get a text message with a verification code to your PayPal account, for example, and you haven’t tried logging in recently, you know that someone has your PayPal password, and you can change it promptly. If you use the same login credentials on any of your other accounts, you can change those too and feel more secure after what could have been much more severe had 2FA not been in place.

Want to Talk to the Experts at Monroy IT Services About Two-Factor Authentication?

Whether you use a computer several times a day or are a business owner in charge of the data of thousands of customers, two-factor authentication is a tool that can benefit you. Implementing new security practices at work may be challenging, but we can help. At Monroy IT Services, we have helped keep our clients’ data secure through our many network security services, including helping you turn on two-factor authentication for your business equipment. If you have any questions or concerns about 2FA, please contact us today!

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