Understanding Two-Factor Security

Two-Factor Security, also known as two-factor authentication, is a form of technology that provides a method of authenticating users by using a combination of two different components. Two-factor security adds an extra step, or factor, to your general log-in procedure. Generally speaking, most people are familiar with single-factor security, where you would log-in to your chosen site or application by simply entering a username and password. While single-factor security may be practical, it also leaves you vulnerable to a hacking or cyber-attack. Two-factor security aims to prevent this by adding a second factor that, in theory, can help make your account more safe and secure.

Two-factor security is a fairly simple concept to understand. Two-factor security revolves around the concept that only the true individual can have access to both factors of security required for authentication. If unauthorized user attempts to gain access to your account, they would need to provide both pieces of identification, or factors, to be verified. If, only one, of the two factors is not correct, the individual cannot be authenticated and therefore will not gain access to your account. This method increases the security of your account and decreases the possibility of your information being compromised. Although two-factor security may seem like a new concept, it has actually been in use for quite some time.

 Some examples of two-factor security in use include:

  • Mobile Phone Two-Factor Authentication
    • Twitter (Linking mobile device to account)
    • Facebook (Linking mobile device to account; phone number used in place of username)
    • SMS Verification (receiving a code via text message)
    • Finger-Print Verification (in combination with a password)
    • Face-Recognition Technology (in combination with a password)
  • Physical Two-Factor Authentication
    • Plastic Card/Chip combined with Password (Most Banks)
    • Physical Quality of Individual (Iris scanning, Voice recognition; often used in high-security settings)
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