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Making two-factor authentication stronger in two easy steps

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As cybersecurity attacks have become one of the most critical issues causing a never-ending headache for organizations and individuals, additional layers of security are no longer an option but a must. However, the results of the Keeper Security survey raise privacy concerns. According to the report, 80% of people aged 18+ use the same password across multiple accounts, which makes them easy prey for hackers who are constantly looking for ways to invade our privacy.

But here comes two-factor authentication promising to ensure additional protection to its users. So, let’s dig deeper to understand what it actually means and how to make sure that 2FA is as secure as it should be.

What is two-factor authentication?

2FA is known as “multi-factor authentication.” One factor is always something the user knows, for example, a PIN code or password, and the second one is related to something the user has such as their fingerprint.

You have probably heard about two-step authentication. Do not confuse yourself – these are not the same. 2SV doesn’t require the “something user has” part. In 2SV the second step usually involves receiving a code via SMS or e-mail and entering it on the website or application. From the first sight, a smartphone receiving a text message or e-mail with a code may confuse and make you consider it as “something you have,” but eventually the code and the credentials used to access the account or device is still a “something you know.”

Although two-step verification adds a layer of protection, it may be an easier catch for hackers as they will need to commit only one type of crime – steal your primary password and the answer to your security question. Accounts protected with two-factor authentication may be more complicated for criminals to hack as they will need to steal not only “something you know,” but also your physical device receiving the information required.

It’s a no-brainer that having any form of additional protection is better than securing your accounts with only one weak password. Therefore, if you need to choose the second level of security, 2FA is an unquestionable winner.

How to make two-factor authentication even stronger?

If you decided to start using two-factor authentication or it has already been implemented on your accounts, there’s still a room for security improvement. Logging in and being requested for an authentication code, you get a notification to your smartphone, and the code shows up on your screen. Easy peasy, right? Yes, that’s totally great as long as your smartphone is in your hands and not being stolen by a criminal. Having your phone taken away these days may have as harsh consequences, such as losing your documents or bank cards. Nevertheless, some simple and easy-to-implement tricks may move your peace of mind to the next level.

1) Bid farewell to your lock-screen notifications

If a thief steals your smartphone, you’d surely regret letting the notifications to show on the screen. Cybercriminals would definitely thank you loads. To secure your data and an emotional state, make sure you don’t allow such notifications to show up on your lock screen.

Set up your notifications on iPhone:

Open Settings and click on Notifications. If you wish to disable all of your lock screen notifications tap on Show Previews > select When Unlocked or Never.

If you prefer to leave some lock screen notifications turned on, go through the apps one by one. Open Settings > click on Notifications > choose the app, for example, Messenger > scroll down to the option for showing previews and select When Unlocked or Never.

Set up your notifications on Android:

Open Settings > tap on Apps & Notifications > choose Notifications > select On the lock Screen > choose Don’t show notifications or Show notifications but hide sensitive content.

A significant part of Android versions doesn’t let you set up notifications for the lock screen app by app. Nevertheless, there is an exception if you use Samsung’s version of the OS.

2) Finish the job by protecting your SIM card

Have in mind that even though you’ve protected your lock-screen from strangers, it’s a no-brainer to remove a SIM card from a phone and easily insert it into another one. This way hackers could receive 2FA one-time codes easily.

It’s effortless enough to take away this option from thieves – use a PIN code for your SIM card for the rescue.

Set up a PIN code on iOS devices:

Tap on Settings > Click on Phone > Choose SIM PIN > Switch SIM PIN on > Enter your current PIN > Tap on Change PIN > Enter your current PIN once more > Enter your new PIN code afterward and enter it once again to confirm the changes.

Set up a PIN code on Android devices

Tap on Settings > Choose Security & Location > Select SIM card lock and Lock SIM card > Enter the current PIN > Tap on Change SIM PIN > Enter the current PIN > Enter a new PIN code once again for confirmation.

That’s it – now your data protection is as strong as it can get with two-factor authentication. However, take into consideration other data security measures such as constantly updating your device’s operating system or using a VPN provider that doesn’t log your data and offers a bunch of additional features for your extra security. It’s never too much of safety and protection – the more serious is your attitude towards security, the more peace of mind is guaranteed.

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

1 thought on “Making two-factor authentication stronger in two easy steps”

  1. Hey, Rebecca, nice article. I already did these steps, thanks for taking time and helping us simple users with protecting ourselves 😉 I use NordVPN too, so even something I was doing right!


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