Have you ever been a victim of a cyber attack? If not, you most likely know one of the nearly 60 million people in the United States impacted by identity theft. Reducing these, and other similar attacks are easy with a tried-and-tested method: two-factor authentication (2FA).

What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, may sound like a new and intimidating concept, but you’ve most likely used it before.

In layman’s terms, 2FA is two ways of confirming you are who you claim you are.

For example, when you visit an ATM and use your debit card, you’re asked to input a PIN number. This means that you’ve already used a basic form of 2FA by authenticating yourself in two ways: with your debit card and with the card’s unique PIN.

Without access to both, thieves are unable to retrieve your funds. Imagine if ATM’s only required one of these forms of authentication. It would be highly insecure and dangerous. After all, it’s not uncommon for someone to lose their debit card, or worse, have it stolen.

By adding an additional layer of security, 2FA protects your bank accounts, email accounts, membership accounts and more. Enabling a second request for authentication allows you to rest assured that your information and data are safe and sound from nefarious actors.

Common Forms of 2FA

You’ll find that most sites with 2FA give you a combination of choices. These verification options typically come in the form of a physical object, personal information, authentication software, or biometrics. Let’s explore them so you make the best choices in the opportune moments.

Possessing a physical object is one way to confirm your identity. This could be something like a debit card, key, cell phone or computer. Without physical access to the mandatory item, access is denied by your provider.

Personal information can come in the form of an email address, phone number, zip code, PIN, authentication code, personal questions, and more. Ideally, the listed items are unique to you and not memorized or accessible by others. Though these are not always secure on their own, such as knowing a searchable zip code, they are secure as the second layer of defense.

Authentication Software, such as Google Authenticator and Yubico, give you strong authentication, meaning if your first form of authentication is compromised, it will not impact the second authentication. By storing your 2FA information, strong authentication links you directly to your account.

Most commonly found with phones, biometrics is the use of body parts, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, to identify a person.

Note: Industry experts do not advise the use of biometrics as a secure form of 2FA as your voice, fingerprint, face, etc. cannot be changed in the event of a hack.

You can investigate here to find out which specific sites offer these different varieties of 2FA.

Keeping it Safe on KeepKey

KeepKey’s method of 2FA is identical to your debit card. Like a debit card, you need the physical item (the KeepKey hardware device), along with the corresponding PIN. This means that even if a series of bad events occur and you misplace your KeepKey, unless you’ve etched your PIN to the back of your device, there is no way for the hacker to gain access. We also advise using a strong and unique PIN and changing it several times a year. After all, it never hurts to be too secure with your crypto fortune.

Additionally, KeepKey supports one more layer of security, known as passphrase protection. Passphrase protection is a technical feature recommended for advanced users. With it, you still need your device and PIN to enter your accounts, but with the addition of a passphrase, you can create hidden accounts only accessible by said phrase.

Does passphrase protection sound like something of interest to you? Reach out to our crypto specialists and they can walk you through the steps for setting it up.

Should I Use 2FA?

Whether you’re extra security-conscientious or just an average joe, you should use 2FA every chance you get to protect yourself from cyber attacks.

Hackers are always evolving their methods and will go to great lengths to access your information. Simply using a standard password-only entry puts you at high risk to these devious thieves, yet somehow less than 10% of Gmail users have it enabled. Malicious malware and keyloggers can easily figure out a single password, so protect yourself with an additional form of authentication at login. Yes, activating 2FA will add an additional step to your login process, but we promise, it is well worth it.