Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and how it adds an extra layer of security to online accounts
Imagine you’re a valiant knight, guarding the entrance to a grand castle. Your duty is to ensure no one unauthorized gains entry. To verify the identity of a visitor, you ask for their insignia. But what if an enemy disguises himself and presents a counterfeit insignia? Would it not be safer to ask for a second proof of identity?
That’s where Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) comes in. In our digital realm, 2FA is like that wise knight asking for an additional proof of identity. It’s a security measure that requires you to provide two forms of identification before you can access your castle, in this case, your digital account.
Traditionally, this first form of authentication is something you know, such as a password. But remember the enemy with the counterfeit insignia? A stolen or guessed password could be used to breach your defenses. That’s why 2FA demands a second form of identification. This is usually something you have or something you are.
The ‘something you have’ could be a mobile device. Once you enter your password, a unique, time-sensitive code is sent to your device. Only upon entering this code can you gain access to your account. So, unless our digital trespasser has both your password and your device, they’re out of luck.
The ‘something you are’ leverages biometrics, the unique biological characteristics that you possess. This could be your fingerprint, your face, or even your voice. It’s like the knight recognizing your face or voice in addition to your insignia. Short of some very high-level espionage, these traits are incredibly difficult to forge.
By implementing 2FA, you’re adding an extra layer of security to your digital castle. Even if the first layer of defense falls, the second one stands tall. According to a report by Symantec, 80% of data breaches could be prevented by 2FA (1).
It’s as if you’re telling potential intruders, “You might have breached the first gate, but can you cross the moat filled with fire-breathing dragons?” Two-Factor Authentication is one of those dragons, ready to incinerate any attempt at unauthorized access.
(1) Symantec. “Internet Security Threat Report.” Symantec, 2019. https://www.symantec.com/security-center/threat-report