Two-factor authentication means using more than 2 ways to authenticate yourself by logging into your online accounts. Most of the online services these days provide two-factor authentication.
While logging into your bank account these days you not only have to enter your login ID and password, you also have to answer a few questions or enter an OTP (one-time password) before you can proceed. Previously, only login and password would do.
Why two-factor authentication?
It makes your online account securer. Normally your login and password can be retrieved if someone can get access to your email account because most of the online accounts whether it is banking, social networking and other web-based services, use an email ID to manage credentials. Whenever you lose or forget your password a temporary password is sent to your email ID and using that temporary password, you can login to your online account.
This is why if someone can hack into your email ID he or she can also get access to important online accounts such as banking accounts.
With two-way authentication although the conventional login and password still work, an extra layer of authentication is used to make sure that the right person is trying to access the account.
Some services use a combination of secret question-answer combination (for example, “What was the city you were born in”, or “When was the first time you had an international flight”) – this question-answer combination is defined when you are creating your online account for the first time in most of the cases although, in some cases, a service can prompt you to create them even afterwards when some sort of two-factor authentication is incorporated for the first time.
Another two-factor authentication is by your registered mobile number. Whenever you log in, an OTP is sent and unless you enter that one-time password, you cannot login even if you have the login-password combination that is controlled by your email ID.
Many websites these days also use biometric authentication. For that, you can speak a phrase into the microphone of your device to let the device scan your retina to authenticate you.
So in two-factor authentication a person needs to have both ways available in order to be able to login to your online account.
How to activate two-factor authentication
Different online services have different ways of activating two-factor authentication. Google calls it 2-step verification. The step-by-step instructions are quite easy. It allows you to select a mobile phone number for second authentication. A one-time password is sent and using that one-time password you can activate your mobile number for 2-step verification or two-factor authentication.
For whichever online service you want to activate two-factor authentication, simply go to your account setting and if there is an option available, you should immediately activate it.