A good amount of our lives happens on mobile devices and computers, so it’s no surprise that our digital accounts have become targets for criminals. These evil attacks against governments, companies, and you are more and more common than ever, with no sign that the hacks, data breaches, and other forms of cybercrime are slowing down! There are times that it is simple human error that has left them exposed. Like I said, this just happened to a good friend of mine.
A recent study revealed that in 2016 over $16 billion was taken from 15.4 million U.S. consumers. Even more incredible, identify thieves stole over $107 billion in the past six years alone. Scary isn’t it?
Luckily, it’s easy to add an extra level of protection to your most important accounts in the form of two-factor authentication, also commonly referred to as 2FA, which is used to make sure that people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are. First, a user will enter their username and a password. Then, instead of immediately gaining access, they will be required to provide another piece of information. This second factor could come from one of the following categories:
Something you know:This could be a personal identification number (PIN), a password, answers to “secret questions” or a specific keystroke pattern.
Something you have:Typically, a user would have something in their possession, like a credit card, a smartphone, or a small hardware token.
Something you are:This category is a little more advanced, and might include biometric pattern of a fingerprint, an iris scan, or a voice print.
Something only you (ideally) have access to: They can send a code via email, voice call or text message that you have to enter before it expires.
With 2FA, a potential compromise of just one of these factors won’t unlock the account. So, even if your password is stolen or your phone is lost, the chances of a someone else having your second-factor information is highly unlikely.
According to a recent report, stolen, reused, and weak passwords remain a leading cause of security breaches. Unfortunately, passwords are still the main (or only) way many companies protect their users. The good news is that cybercrime is in the news so much that 2FA awareness is quickly growing and users are demanding that the companies they do business with have improved security. Most likely, your bank and other truly sensitive web sites you visit have this ability, and if they don’t, you may want to move your accounts to one that does.
BE CAREFUL many criminals will trick you into giving them the 2FA information. Example: You receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank and they tell you that for your security, you must text them the code you just received, but the code they want you to send them is the 2FA that allows them to take money from you. Never send your 2FA to anyone! If your bank contacts you, end that conversation, and call them at a trusted phone number.
If my friend had 2FA, when the criminals tried to make the transfer, it would have required another level of protection that they would not likely have had access to, and the theft would not have happened.
One last note: many people can’t tolerate the “hassle” of continually identifying themselves, so they opt out of 2FA, when they can… so I ask you, is it worth the extra time it takes to keep your accounts secure?
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Choose to have an amazing day…. Jeff