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  • May 20, 2022

Tech Talk with Jeff - Multi-factor Authentication

The term ‘multi-factor authentication’ (MFA) comes up more frequently these days due to all the breaches that are in the news. But what is it?

Multi-factor authentication is an added layer of protection used when accessing something important, like a bank account. Think of it as an additional locked door that must be unlocked to access the account. 

Why would you want to use it? 

Everyone has online accounts all over the place that are accessed across the Internet. The Internet is NOT a safe place. There are bad actors all over the world who are constantly trying to break into every account they can, anyone from teenagers to foreign governments. Automation (BOTS) are used to do this as well. When you only have a login name and a password protecting your account, that is not a lot of protection. What makes it worse is most people use the same login name everywhere. With that, someone already has half the information needed to get into an account. 

The password is next. A lot of people make simple, easy to remember passwords. They use pet names, time of year, kids’ names and other such items. These are all easily found on social media pages by anyone that goes looking for them. We put out enough information on social media to figure out someone’s possible password, making it easier to get past the second half. Amazing! By the way, it is very important to use a completely different password on every online account. Using the same password on several accounts makes it really easy for someone to suddenly have access to a lot of your accounts. And they will find all of the accounts very quickly.

Using multi-factor authentication adds another layer of complexity that makes it harder, but not impossible, for someone to get into your account. There are different methods used for multi-factor authentication such as having a code sent through a text to your cell phone or using an authenticator program like the one Google provides. Which is better? Personally, I think an authenticator program is more secure. Text messages can be intercepted or messed with more easily (cell phones are not secure devices). In any case, using one of these methods is far better than not using one of these methods at all.

One of the important things to remember when you use either method is that the code provided to you for entry into your account is for you and only you. If someone is trying to get you to provide that code to them for ANY reason, they are a scammer trying to access your account. Slow down, stop and think. Don’t be pressured by anyone. The company providing the account would never ask you for that code. Don’t ever provide it to anyone else.

Even though it slows you down, any place you can use multi-factor authentication, you should absolutely use it if it is available. It is an added layer of protection for your accounts in this vary unsafe world full of people trying to get past your security. And yes, they are trying. Is it a pain? Yes and I grumble over it too. But it is worth doing to protect your online accounts.

Be aware and be safe!

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