How to set up two-factor authentication on popular apps, services

How to set up two-factor authentication on popular apps, services
2FA is an extra layer of security used to make sure that people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are. (Source: Gray Television)

(WAFB) - As more reports of in-home security cameras being hacked surface, experts recommend setting up two-factor authentication, an advanced security measure, on as many online apps and services as possible.

In Atlanta, a woman was terrified after someone hacked in a security camera and was able to see in her bedroom.

In Memphis, chilling video came from inside a child’s room after a hacker found a way to manipulate a Ring device.

What is two-factor authentication (2FA)?

2FA is an extra layer of security used to make sure that people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are. After entering a username and a password, two-factor authentication requires the user to provide another piece of information. The second factor could come in one of the following forms:

  • Something you know: A unique PIN, an additional password, the answer to a security question, or a keystroke pattern
  • Something you have: A code sent to a smartphone or email address
  • Something you are: A fingerprint, a face scan, or a voiceprint

One of the most common means of authentication, text message-based 2FA interacts directly with a user’s phone. After entering a username and password, the site will send the user a unique, one-time passcode (OTP) via text message. The user inputs that code back into the login form and is granted access.

Voice-based 2FA dials the user’s phone number and verbally delivers the OTP. The user enters that code back into the website and is granted access.

According to Authy.com, text messages (SMS) are considered to be the least secure way to authenticate your accounts. Utility companies, banks, and email accounts have started upgrading their security by moving beyond SMS-based 2FA to software tokens and push notifications.

Fingerprints and facial recognition can be used, for example, on smartphones with fingerprint or FaceID technology.

Is there an app for that?

Of course. Authenticator apps offer flexibility when cell services and text messages aren’t available.

Popular options include Authy, Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, or HDE OTP (iOS only). These apps mostly follow the same procedure when adding a new account: the user scans a QR code associated with their account and it is saved in the app. The next time a user logs in to the service or app, it will ask for a numerical code; just open up the authenticator app to find the randomly generated code required to get past security.

Here’s how to enable 2FA on your accounts across the web:

Select any of the highlighted apps or services for official documentation. Visit TwoFactorAuth.org for a complete list.

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