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Two Factor Authentication (2FA) explained

2 Factor Authentication is growing more and more popular. This quick guide explains everything you need to know.

Last updated: 07 April 2021

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) explained
As cyber security becomes more and more important, lots of people are opting for 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) when protecting their online profiles and accounts. But what is it, and how does it work? 

What is 2FA?

2 Factor Authentication, or 2FA as it’s commonly referred to, adds an extra layer of security to any login procedure, offering a belts and braces approach to supplement your password. This means that even if someone is able to hack or guess your password, they still won’t be able to access your bank account as they haven’t completed all the required steps.

Examples of 2FA

You have most likely had to use 2FA without even realising what it was called. For example, if you need to provide your fingerprint or face ID as well as personal details to access an app. One of the most common forms is to be texted a unique code which you then need to enter on the login page of the site you are trying to access.

Some of the most secure methods of 2FA require an actual physical device in order for you to be able to gain access, such as a USB stick that needs to be inserted into your device. These, while a little impractical, provide an incredibly high level of security as they are very difficult to replicate.

Why use 2FA?

The simple answer is that passwords can no longer be trusted on their own. Data breaches of large, seemingly secure companies happen with increasing frequency and if passwords are amongst the stolen goods, they can easily end up in the wrong hands.

While some companies employ security questions such as your place of birth or your first pet, these are not water tight and finding out details of someone's personal life has never been easier. 2FA means that even if someone does happen to know your password and your mothers maiden name, they still can’t access your account.

How do I set up 2FA?

When you are creating an account with a company, many will offer you the choice of setting up 2FA. Even if you skipped it the first time you can often go back and add it later. Large companies that have your sensitive data on file will often have this option and some, such as financial institutions, won’t let you set up an account without it.

Although it can be a bit of a pain to create, being fiddly and time consuming, it’s always going to be worthwhile for the extra level of security for your personal details.

Multi factor authentication

For those that don’t think two factors are enough, there are some companies that provide multi factor authentication. This could be a password, a fingerprint and an SMS code that you need to enter. While it’s always good to be careful, these would generally be reserved for online accounts such as banks where it’s absolutely vital to keep it free of any unwanted cyber burglars.

One of the best ways to stay secure online is to make sure you pick a provider that offers an appropriate level of protection. Use our comparison tool to search for a new broadband deal today.

Michael Quinn

Author: Michael Quinn

Michael is a dedicated author helping usave to write guides, blogs and news for the last four years. When not writing articles, you can usually find him at wine tasting events or having a political debate on the night tube.

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