If you have not received the memo, passwords are not enough protection for your online accounts. Even a long and complex password offers only one line of defense that can falter. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer, strengthens your defense and reduces the risk of compromising your account.
These apps create a series of numbers called tokens that must be entered after signing in with your password to access your account. Since the app is on your phone, you need to know both your password and have access to your phone to sign in, making access difficult for others.
While there are several ways to implement two-factor authentication, 2FA apps provide a good balance between comfort and security. While SMS is not secure because messages can be intercepted and phone calls are not convenient, because you have to wait for an automated system to call your phone and read your code, 2FA apps will not compromise in any department. The token is much more difficult to intercept, but it remains as accessible as a text message.
What you need
- Your phone
- A computer or second mobile device
You need a 2FA app to get started. If you're not sure which app to use, we have an overview comparing the best authenticator apps in the Play Store and App Store. In this example, we use Authy, which was at the top of our list.
Step 2: Check your accounts for 2FA app support
Although most sites use a form of two-app authentication Support factor authentication, the method varies. Many websites support SMS and phone calls and skip 2FA apps altogether, although they are a safer method.
While apps are slowly changing, first check that your account supports this authentication method. Use this link to search for sites for which you have an account and see if a "software token" is supported (indicating that 2FA apps can be used).
Step 3: Enabling two-factor authentication
The next step varies for each site however we will demonstrate with Dropbox. Sign in to your account on your computer or on the second mobile device and enter "Settings" or "My Account". Look for the "Security" option, which in the case of Dropbox is a tab. Enable "Two-Factor Verification," which can also be referred to as "two-factor authentication," "two-step verification," or "multi-factor authentication." Enter your password and select "Use mobile app". Once selected, a QR code will be displayed.
With Authy open, select the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the screen and select "Add Account". After adding, select "Scan QR Code" and scan the code on the computer or second mobile device using the appropriate box. Authy creates an entry for the account in your database asking you to change the name if you want. Select "Done" and you will be confronted with the new entry and a six-digit code.
This process will be similar to any other 2FA app – just search for an option "Add Account" or "Add New Service". "
Select" Continue "on your computer and enter the six-digit code Be sure to enter the code quickly as it expires after 30 seconds (when it expires, enter the new code) After a series of prompts, click "Next" until you return to the main page with "Two Factors Review" enabled.