It’s a simple fact: electronic data storage is all about security. While we tend to be misled to believe that there are ways of ensuring the absolute security of our most sensitive data, this is far from the truth. In fact, as some of the biggest data breaches in 2019 show, anyone can be hacked. When taking preventative measures to heighten the security of your data, it’s all about taking reasonable steps. One of the best ways to boost your data security is through two-factor authentication.

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication acts as an extra barrier between your most sensitive data and hackers. Patented in 1984, two-factor authentication utilizes two components to verify your identity. In the online space, two-factor authentication typically uses the password to your account followed by a randomly generated PIN that is sent to one of your verified devices via email or phone.

Another option involves answering a security question that you select when setting up two-factor authentication. This may include questions such as “what is your mother’s maiden name” or “what was the name of your first pet?” It is best practice to select a security question that isn’t easily guessed.

Why Two-Factor Authentication is Important

While no means of security can be classified as foolproof, two-factor authentication offers a significant amount of added security. Primarily, two-factor authentication acts as a means of making your online accounts much more challenging to hack. Secondly, it makes your online accounts a much less attractive prospect to hackers in search of an easy target.

When hackers are attempting to find accounts to break into, they generally look for accounts that have very little security. When met with a two-factor authentication, many will move on and look for accounts that don’t have these robust security measures. In the event that a hacker decides to try hacking into your online account, they will need much more than just a simple password. They would also need access to your phone or email.

While there are methods that hackers can use to gain access to your phone via malware or phishing, these methods demand a level of effort that most hackers are not willing to undertake. After all, there are much easier targets out there that have yet to make two-factor authentication part of their security measures.  Don’t count yourself among them!

Is Two-Factor Authentication Required on Every Login?

Those who have yet to implement two-factor authentication for added security argue that it is too much of a hassle. This is because they believe that the annoyance of having to verify their identity upon every login is too much of an inconvenience. However, most websites using two-factor authentication will only require verification each time that you log in from an unknown device.

Most websites will give you the option to set a device as a “trusted browser” each time you log in for the first time. This eliminates the need to repeat the process on every login on that device. It is important that you remember that setting a device as a “trusted browser” should only be done on your personal devices.

If you are using a shared or public device, it is much safer to repeat the verification process on each login. This prevents anyone with access to the device from pretending to be you and bypassing the verification process, thereby defeating the purpose of two-factor authentication altogether.

Which Websites Offer Two-Factor Authentication?

Many of the most used online platforms have already made two-factor authentication part of their strategy to protect sensitive data. From social media platforms to financial institutions, two-factor authentication is nearly everywhere.

If you’re looking for an easy way to find out which of the websites that you are considering have implemented two-step authentication, you’re in luck. Engineer Josh Davis created a website that acts as a comprehensive and constantly updated list of websites with two-step authentication. The website also offers a list of websites that have yet to utilize two-factor authentication and gives you the chance to reach out to those sites in order to ask them to add it.

How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Now that you understand the importance of using two-factor authentication to protect your most sensitive data, you may be wondering how to set it up. Fortunately, setting up two-factor authentication is a relatively straightforward process, but it is important to remember that set up may vary from one website to the next.

Some websites utilize two-factor authentication by default while other websites ask users to enable it themselves if they wish to use it. If you are curious how to set up two-factor authentication across your accounts, there are many resources available to you. For one, you can visit the FAQs of a website where the process is usually highlighted. Another option is to read through one of the many how-to guides available online. These detail how to set up two-factor authentication across a variety of the most popular websites. 

Why Businesses Should Implement Two-Factor Authentication

If you happen to be a business owner who values keeping confidential data as secure as possible, two-factor authentication should be part of your security solution. Similarly to the benefits offered to personal accounts, two-factor authentication for businesses adds an extra layer of protection. This protects not only employee data but customer data as well.

Even some of the largest retailers in the world have been subject to significant data breaches that left customer data compromised. Take the Target data breach of 2014, for example. It has been argued that two-factor authentication could have prevented it from happening. This is because the source of the breach was a password stolen from a contractor with access to store networks. Had two-factor authentication been used, it’s likely that Target wouldn’t have faced the loss of millions of dollars in fines and losses that they did.

Whether you are the owner of a small business or the CEO of a major corporation, you should remember that hackers are indiscriminate. No matter the size of your business, someone will find a reason to attempt a hack. As a potential source of sensitive data, your business would do well to make two-factor authentication a component of your overall security measures.

To set up two-factor authentication, contact Teknabyte today at 317-620-3900.