What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication, otherwise known as 2FA, is a log-in process that requires certain digital account owners to present two forms of ID verification rather than just one password.

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Two-factor authentication requires account users to enter two forms of ID verification to be permitted access into any kind of account, from a social media profile to work portal, as an extra layer of protection to makes it more difficult for bad actors to hack into online profiles.

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Some websites (think: online shopping websites) only require an email and password to log into an account, but more companies are requiring an extra verification step besides a password to allow users into their accounts.

A Microsoft study found that 99.9 percent of accounts hacked every month do not have two-factor authentication set up.

This extra step might be entering a valid phone number, an answer to a specific question (like "What was the name of your first pet?") or activating a verification app like Okta Verify.

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Annoying as two-factor authentication may be, it is becoming increasingly necessary as hackers learn to strengthen their abilities to get into accounts by using technology that can guess passwords in just seconds by testing random letter-and-number combinations at rapid speeds.

Two- and even multi-factor authentication are becoming more commonplace on social media websites, banking websites, health websites and work-related websites than hold sensitive information.

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Google's security company Nest and Amazon's security company Ring recently mandated two-factor authentication for users after reports of strangers hacking into people's security camera accounts and getting access to sensitive footage made national news.