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How to stay safe with Two-Factor Authentication

What is it?

Spy movies illustrate security as an elaborate system. An agent sneaks into a secret facility and can only gain access if they present multiple types of identification. Unlocking the door requires a 10-digit passcode, an eye scan, and an audible code. Two-factor authentication is the same concept, but for your online data.

What's two-factor authentication? It means you need two pieces of separate information, such as a password and a text message, to successfully log in to an account online. This makes it harder for hackers to steal your personal information from, say, your bank account or email. In today's era, high-profile hacks are becoming more common. We're not saying two-factor authentication will prevent this from happening, but it will certainly help reduce the possibility.

Two-factor authentication is sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor means you have at least two or more separate factors of authentication. We'll go over what each factor means. Once you have provided proof that you are not a robot or a Nigerian prince, you will then obtain access.

Multiple layers of protection

Just how many layers of authentication are there? There are three main factors of verification: knowledge, possession, and inherence. TechTarget simplifies the three definitions down to 1) something that you need to know, 2) something you need to have, and 3) something you are.

Let's break it down:

The knowledge factor

The knowledge factor relies on your knowing your username and password to log in to your account. Having a simple password such as 'password123' leaves you open to hackers who won't break a sweat trying to crack that code. If that's your password, change it now. Read about our article on how to protect your passwords. Get in the habit of changing your passwords every three months. As mentioned before, having two-factor authentication makes it less likely for anyone to get ahold of your sensitive data.

The possession factor

The possession factor requires you to have something that you own nearby like a smartphone or an email. Many companies such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter give you the option to receive a call, text, or email of a one-time-use passcode to verify your account information. Most major banks, email services, and social media platforms support two-factor, so you have no excuse not to secure your data. If you're unsure if a service offers two-factor authentication, click here to find out.

The inherence factor

The inherence factor is you, literally. It could be a retina scan, fingerprint, or the sound of your voice. Apple implemented the fingerprint reader on their phones beginning with the iPhone 5S in September 2013. Other phones followed pursuit such as the HTC One Max and Samsung Galaxy S5. Laptops have been using fingerprint readers since 2004 with the Lenovo ThinkPad T42. Most online services only use the first two factors, so don't worry if you don't encounter this.


Be careful if your phone gets lost or stolen. If your smartphone is set up to receive authentication calls or texts, you will be locked out. Oftentimes, services offer backup codes when you register for two-factor. This means that if you lose your phone, you'll have backup codes available on paper. Call or email your account's help desk if you need additional support. Read more about how to find your lost or stolen smartphone. In general, make sure to report your stolen or missing phone immediately to local authorities and your wireless carrier and change any account passwords.

Method at your side

Ultimately, just how secure is your technology? Give Method a call so we can assist you in keeping your computer or phone safe from malicious attacks. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us at 844-463-8463 or email us at

Tags: two-factor | multi-factor | passwords | security | protection | smartphone | two-factor authentication

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