By now, you’ve probably heard of multifactor authentication, aka MFA and 2FA.
You have some accounts that send text messages with five or six numbers to your phone. Maybe your company makes you use an in-house authentication system where you must tap “approve” on your phone. You may even log into some apps on your phone with a fingerprint.
Why has this hassle become a part of our digital life?
The short answer is: It’s one of the most effective ways of stopping someone from breaking into your accounts. Multifactor Authentication has a 95-99% effective rate (depending on who you ask, such as the FBI and Microsoft.)
While humans seem to be programmed to take the shortest, quickest path possible, we must train ourselves always to use multifactor authentication when logging on.
Increasingly, organizations are using authentication apps, such as Duo or Microsoft Authenticator, which bypass the text message system. Instead, you install the authenticator’s app on your phone, and the software works with that. They are similar to the system Google uses, where you tap “Yes” to confirm it’s you ( or “No” if it’s not!)
For sensitive accounts, a hardware key or a biometric, such as a fingerprint or iris scan, may be better choices. While you can’t lose your fingerprint, be careful not to lose the hardware dongle.
Accounts and their passwords have been for sale for years on the Dark Web, thanks to bulk breaches that steal huge blocks of customer account information. (Perhaps you’ve checked haveibeenpwnd.com to see if you have compromised accounts.)
In 2021, not using multifactor authentication on your accounts is akin to parking in an urban parking lot, putting your wallet on the front seat, and walking away with your car doors unlocked. Criminals have automated their search for accounts they can break into, and their break-ins can take seconds.
Multifactor authentication may be the only way you can stop them cold.