Two-Factor Authentication: What It Is and Why You Need It

Posted by Justin Unton

May 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Two-factor authentication is becoming increasingly prominent and necessary in today’s security-driven world. For those among you who don’t know what it is or why you need it, after reading this blog post, you’ll not only understand two-factor authentication, but also want to sign up for it on all of your sites and devices.

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Google’s Matt Cutts puts it like this, “Two-factor authentication is a simple feature that asks for more than just your password. It requires both something you know (like a password) and something you have (like your phone).” Basically, with two-factor authentication, you can’t just log in to your accounts using a password. You also need something physically there—your phone, a token, or a smartcard, for example— to help identify to the site that you are, well, you!

Commonwealth uses a variation of two-factor authentication on its back-office website login page. Advisors need their password and access to their telephone or personal e-mail address. Here are a few other companies that use two-factor authentication:

  • Google
  • LastPass
  • Facebook
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Amazon Web Services

Why You Need It and Where to Sign Up for It

You don’t want to be the weak link in your clients’ digital security. Your client could be using two-factor authentication, yet you could be hacked and could cough up all of your clients’ personal information to online hackers. Do yourself a favor and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. You can sign up for it through the Preferences menus in most applications (in fact, Twitter just announced that it is using it!)

Topics: Information Security, Technology

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