Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a form of additional security that you can add to accounts to protect yourself against hackers and unwanted logins from third parties. Also known as Two-Factor Authorization (TFA) or Two-Step Verification (2SV), this strategy has been adopted by many of the best and most popular tech companies to provide users with greater oversight and control when it comes to signing in to their accounts.
Whatever you call it, the underlying principle of MFA remains the same. Essentially, you link an account with a secondary device (e.g., your phone) or method of communication (e.g., an email or text) so that when a login is attempted for your account you are alerted and sent a means of authorizing the login.
If you link an account to your phone, you will likely receive a notification which allows you to approve the login from your phone. If you’ve set up MFA with email or text, you’ll receive a message with a code that will need to be entered on the login screen to complete the login process.
The reason so many online service providers are now offering MFA is because it means that, should your password be compromised, you can still control access to your account and prevent third parties from accessing your information simply because they have your password.
The authentication request you receive also acts as an implied notification of an illicit login attempt. If it’s not you who’s just tried to login then your account is in danger and you can act quickly to change your password to make it secure again.
Each account will have slightly different ways in which you set up MFA. Here are guides on how to activate multi-factor authentication for the two most common accounts.
Google has a comprehensive Authentication process, which includes helping you set up strong passwords, activating two-step verification (2SV) and strengthening your account with additional Google Security. There is a basic four-step process for 2SV activation:
- Open your Google Account.
- In the navigation panel, select Security.
- Under “Signing in to Google,” select 2-Step Verification and then Get started.
- Follow the on-screen steps.
Apple’s two-factor authentication (2FA) can be set up across all your devices. The process is a little different for a Mac than for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Here’s the basic steps to follow:
- Open the Apple menu.
- Select System Preferences, then click Apple ID.
- Click Password & Security under your name.
- Next to Two-Factor Authentication, click Turn On.
- Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security.
- Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
- Tap Continue.
- Enter the phone number you want to receive verification codes on when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or via an automated phone call.
- Tap Next.
- Enter the verification code to verify your phone number and turn on two-factor authentication.
When setting up Apple 2FA, you may be asked to answer your Apple ID security questions, so be sure to remind yourself of your answers before starting the process.
Especially for any accounts that contain any of your personal or sensitive information, like banking and social media, it’s worth checking if you can set up multi-factor authentication.
For most accounts, MFA will be listed as an option in the account settings, and it will generally only take a few basic steps. Start with your general-use accounts — like Microsoft — and your social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Once you’ve activated MFA, you’ll have an additional layer of security for your accounts that will keep your information better protected. For more information about keeping your data secure, check out our Total Defense Security blog or contact us to speak with an expert.