January 2014: Got a cell phone or an email account? Then it’s easy to make your online accounts hundreds of times safer — just add two-factor authentication (2FA). Online powerhouses like Google, Microsoft, Apple Yahoo! and others let you sign up with just a few clicks.
Here are the links you need to hop on 2FA right now so you can keep hackers out, your personal data in, and your online life more secure and productive.
It only takes a few extra seconds and, once you do it a few times, you’ll get used to the process — and it feels great knowing your account has confirmed you’re YOU.
2FA works by requiring you to enter a unique, single-use code in addition to your login username/password. The code is sent to you by text, email or voicemail (your choice) immediately after you’ve entered your username/password. If you don’t also enter the code, a.k.a. the second factor of authentication, you can’t complete the login.
Keep in mind that sometimes companies call 2FA by different names, but they’re all talking about the same “two factor” process. You can sign up for 2FA on all these accounts and others:
Google Two-step Verification
Microsoft Two-step Verification
Apple Two-step Verification
Yahoo! Second Sign-in Verification
PayPal Security Key
Facebook Login Approval
Twitter Login Verification
LinkedIn Two-step Verification
Dropbox Two-step Verification
Box Two-Step Login Verification
Evernote Two-step Verification
WordPress Duo Two-Factor Authentication
You can also use Google Authenticator App on your smartphone if you’re enrolled in Google’s Two-step verification. It’s a great way to use 2FA when you’re on the go. The app also works with LastPass, the popular free password manager. But make sure to uninstall the Google Authenticator app from your old phone before trying to install it on a new one. Only one phone per Google account is allowed.
In the near future
Soon you’ll see more accounts offering 2FA. Companies like DuoSecurity and Authy are making it easy for almost any company to add it to their login process. Soon entering a 2FA code will be part of your everyday cyber life.
Even more protection
There’s a third factor authentication (3FA) that companies can include. This is the safest option of all. 3FA adds something that’s distinctly human for a practically foolproof login process. The three factors are:
- Something you know. This is your username/password combo.
- Something you have. This is the 2FA code you receive. It can also be something physical, like a swipe card or key fob that generates new random codes.
- Something you are. This is a fingerprint, voiceprint, signature or something else that’s exclusively yours.
While 2FA (and 3FA) may seem to slow you down, it’s a hop in the park compared to the time it takes to recover from identity theft!
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