What is 2-factor authentication, and why should I use it?

Rob Githinji Last updated: January 7, 2023 Read time: 12 minutes Disclosure

Using a VPN and password manager is not enough to ensure data safety. You should enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) to maximize all your accounts' security.

Two-factor authentication adds an additional verification step during account sign-ins. Since it works on top of your password, your account remains inaccessible even if an adversary somehow manages to steal your password. Today, numerous 2FA options exist, such as using one-time passwords (OTPs), biometric scans, and authenticator apps.

Today, many people have adapted to the whole online lifestyle due to unforeseen circumstances and the advancement of technology. However, the more technology advances, the more circumstantially and online vulnerability keeps turning into the masses’ prime concerns.

As the importance of securing online accounts keeps growing, more and more people keep hearing about 2-factor authentication (aka 2FA). As you are here, chances are you, too, are one of them.

Worry no more, here you will discover an easy-to-digest answer to your question, “what is 2-factor authentication?” alongside its benefits. So let’s get straight to that all.

Understanding 2-factor authentication

Whether you open an account on a website or app, you must input your credentials. Login credentials consist of a username or email and password.

Usually, you only need to input your login credentials to open your account. It seems insecure, right? Definitely. So why do we still practice it?

Most websites and services advise users not to share their login credentials with other people for good reasons. However, if you think about it, using even the best VPN and password manager might not be sufficient.

Therefore, to protect your account, if someone manages to gain access to your login details, you should also use a 2-factor authentication process.

Arguably, it will be an inconvenience to users if websites add extra steps to the login process. If companies require authentication, everyday users might find it complicated or time-consuming.

Indeed, they won’t risk losing users for that reason.

However, if you want added protection to your accounts, you should look at 2-Factor Authentication. It’s a method that’s both free and easy to use. All you need to start using 2FA is only tinkering with your account settings a little.

How 2fa authentication works

That brings us to the question, “What is 2-factor authentication?” While it may sound complicated, it’s pretty simple to understand. You don’t need to be very technical to grasp its function.

In essence, 2FA or Two-Factor Authentication is an extra protection layer for all your accounts that you can add in different ways.

As the name suggests, Two-Factor Authentication is a security method that requires a user to provide two types of information to access an account. As a result, it enhances the security of devices, accounts, and even a smart door.

It’s more like a screening process before you can open something.

As noted earlier, websites and services do not activate it by default, so you will have to configure it on your account settings manually. Better yet, though, you can enable it by mostly merely toggling an option in your account, which is usually labeled accordingly. After activation, your login process should have an additional step.

With 2FA activated, you should receive a code either by SMS or generated from an app once you attempt to open your account. You then paste the code into the login prompt. If the code is correct, you should be able to log in successfully.

Two-factor authentification is of too much value and use. It helps secure your accounts at the very best level. With it, no one could unlock your account, even with an exposed password.

Forms of two-factor authentication (2fa)