There isn’t a single day that passes without news that talk about internet fraud. Digital crime is at its peak and hackers seem to find their way through the security layer that you have on your device. The situation is such that keeping a single password doesn’t seem to be secure enough. This is why two-factor authentication or two-step verification or multi-factor authentication is necessary whenever you are logging into an account. The two-factor authentication solves the problem of a single layer security by adding another layer over it – a secondary code.

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How Does Two-Factor Authentication Work?

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-step verification not only needs a username and password but also a different information which could be a mobile generated security code or a physical token or a prompt on mobile which needs to be touched and verified or any other way that has been developed by the app. There are broadly three ways of authentication that are common and widely used.

A physical thing that one could have – Fob key or hardware tokens commonly used for doors or automobiles, a phone or credit card.

Something stored in one’s mind –Secret question(first school, spouse’s name or favorite actor, etc.), PIN or ZIP code.

A part of your physical self – Also known as biometrics and it could be your voice, fingerprint, face or retina.

Although two-factor authentication is an old way of security the recent digital technology has made things more safe and easy. This is something which was introduced by Google.

Think about you getting a four digit code from your bank to verify your shopping. This is two-way authentication – the first layer was your card details or login details that you provided and the PIN that came on your phone was the second one. Every time one log’s into their account a new code is generated. This is to ensure that the person who is using the card and the account holder is the same person and there isn’t any fraud associated with the bank account.

There are many apps that have been developed especially for two-factor authentication and instead of receiving an SMS you could use a dedicated app to receive the codes.

The next question that arises is how safe are apps and should the codes come from apps or should they come through an SMS. An authentication app may have an advantage here because this way you won’t depend on your carrier to get a text. Texts could be intercepted by hackers. Codes on apps expire within 30 or 40 seconds so the hackers cannot transfer them to their devices but in an SMS they can manipulate a phone and get the number.

Some online services such as Facebook, Google, Instagram and Dropbox let their users create backup codes which can be memorized or print and then even if you don’t have any signal on your phone or your phone is lost then this code can be used as a backup code. However, the code should be kept safely.

Here are some apps that will let you use two-factor authentication on your phone:

Authy

Having several accounts that have two-factor authentication would also mean codes for every account. However, Authy offers cool services such as the two-factor authentication that works on the cloud servers of the app. All you need to do is activate encrypted backups and then the codes are stored on Authy’s servers. So, irrespective of the device you use – smartphone, laptop or tablet you have access to your codes.

Download Authy for android

Download Authy for iOS

Google Authenticator

This is a free app which can be used by both iOS and Android users. All you need to do is enable two-factor authentication in your services or say Gmail, Facebook etc. and then take a snapshot of the QR code from the app. The Android smartphone users will have to download a QR code reading app if they wish to use Google Authenticator. As the QR code is scanned the codes with be generated by the app and you will have to put in the recent one so the two-factor authentication can be verified. You can then add as many accounts you want to the Google Authenticator.

Download Google Authenticator for Android

Download Google Authenticator for iOS

Besides these apps, there are several others that can be downloaded on your smartphone. Two-factor authentication ensures that your account is safe and always keeps your personal details safe and secure.

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