Two Factor Authentication and why you should enable it on your accounts?

This is the time when online security matters probably right after civil rights. Modern day humans (at least in first world) spend most of the time online either for work, social media, paying bills or checking their bank balances where they get their salaries deposited automatically. People have this digital life as an extension to their normal lives and what happens online in digital world inadvertently does affect their lives. Everyone who interacts online should always put their accounts’ security at high priority, especially where having only a strong password is no longer a viable solution.

What is two factor authentication?

Two factor authentication or OTP (One Time Password) is a second layer of security to your account. The second password is usually supplied to your smart phone at the time of every login.

Why to use?

In addition to Username and Password this is like a second password which you have that can only be used once and after every use it changes. Services like Google, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. already support OTP. I will highly recommend that, if your service provides OTP go and enable it right after you finish reading this article.

There are two ways these online services can provide you your OTP. These services can verify your identity by supplying OTP to you via text, call or dedicated authenticator apps when there is an attempt to log into your account. These method ensures that only the person who owns the account can receive the OTP when he/she tries to log into the account.

Simple graphical illustration of Two Factor Authentication [Source: http://thatgeekdad.blogspot.com/]

Note: When you setup Two Factor Authentication on any online account, you will be provided with backup codes. Please DO NOT save these backup codes on you emails. Print them and keep them in a safe place so you can get to them if you lose your smart phone.

Please check FAQs of your online email, cloud, payment, etc. service provider or call their support line to know more about OTP they provide as these methods vary depending on the service provider.

One of the best ways to manage OTPs on your cell phone and computers is to use a password manager. Here are couple of password managers and which OS they support OTPs on; 1Password (for iOS, MacOS, Windows and Android), LastPass (iOS and Android). I am sure if you Google you might find more password managers who support OTP.

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