Online security is a big topic nowadays, and more people are starting to realize that they are treating their different internet based accounts very poorly with regards to safety measures. It’s quite strange when one considers all the information that these online services hold about us, and how devastating a potential breach could actually be. Most people think about the obvious cases like someone compromising their bank account, but the potential problems can go much deeper than that. Attackers are more creative than you might think, and a common tactic used today involves stealing someone’s social media account, pretending to be that person in conversations with their friends and family, and asking for money for an emergency loan. Before you’re able to regain access to your account, many of your relatives may have already been scammed!
Why You Should Not Ignore 2-Factor Authentication
2-factor authentication sounds like a scary term to some people with less tech savviness, but it’s actually a pretty simple concept. When trying to login into an account, the system will not only ask you for your password, but for an additional code sent to your e-mail, mobile phone, or another third-party service. That way, even if someone manages to steal your password, they would still be unable to get into the related account without having access to the second factor.
Of course, that’s pretty useless if you reuse the same password for everything. If your specific instance of 2-factor authentication uses e-mail for verification, for example, and you have the same password there, an attacker can easily gain control over all your accounts with just a few clicks. You should therefore not only make sure that your e-mail is securely protected with a strong password, but that it itself also uses 2-factor authentication.
Advanced Forms for Stronger Protection
Sometimes, a company may actually issue a dedicated physical device to their users, commonly called a “token”, that has the sole purpose of generating login codes. Many banks can do this for your account if you asked, and it’s also popular in other industries. A well known video game popularized this concept on the gaming market for example, and there are plenty of other examples of token-based 2-factor authentication.
Generally, this is one of the strongest forms of protection there is, as an attacker would need to gain physical access to the token itself, or otherwise break its cryptographically strong algorithm that generates the code. Needless to say, the second should not be possible by definition, and the first depends entirely on you and your own security practices. As long as you’re careful, you should have nothing to worry about.
Do I Really Need It?
We’re quickly moving towards an age where we’ll be more connected to our online accounts than ever before. Steadily, our whole lives are becoming digitized, and it won’t be long before digital security becomes an actual problem of society as a whole. But you don’t have to wait until then to secure yourself. In fact, the sooner you realize the importance of having a responsible attitude towards your accounts’ security, the better prepared you’re going to be in the long run. Make no mistake, there will be a day when you will not regret putting so much effort into educating yourself on proper security practices.
So the next time you’re signing up for an account and they offer you 2-factor authentication, don’t ignore it. Take full advantage of the offer and make sure that you treat your extra login credentials with the responsible attitude that they deserve. After all, this is a small, but critical, piece of your real-life identity, with all the risks that carries.