As we move more of our important information online, from cloud-based storage to web-based email and financial software, the need for additional security around those accounts becomes clear. Relying on a simple username and password won’t cut it in a world where spyware and phishing attacks try to gather as much information about us as possible.
Fortunately, many online services are adding another layer to their security in the form of “2-Step Verification”. Sometimes referred to as “Two Factor Authentication”, this process involves an additional step during the login process to help confirm your identity by requiring “something you know” and “something you have”.
The knowledge part is your existing password. To add something you have, many sites will ask you to sign up your mobile number or download a special app for your smartphone. This allows a security code to be sent to the phone, which is entered after the password.
It sounds complicated, but many of us have been using 2-step verification for decades in the form of ATM cards. The “something you know” is your PIN, and the “something you have” is your ATM card. Just like the ATM process has become second-nature, so too will 2-step verification once you set it up and begin to use it.
For a complete list of services that currently allow 2-step verification, such as Google, PayPal, Facebook and others, visit twofactorauth.org.