Two Factor Authentication (2FA) 101: What it is, why it matters for cybersecurity

It’s time to get serious about security, to break through the bullshit, and to implement Two Factor Authentication right now!

There are, simply put, three generally accepted methods of authenticating identity: knowledge; possession; and inherence. The first is familiar to everyone in the form of the password, passphrase, PIN, or even the pattern drawn with a finger on some smartphone lock screens; this is also sadly the weakest form of authentication. The knowledge factor relies on something you know, and that’s at once its biggest positive and negative.

On the plus side, a user can create (if the login process allows, and all enterprise strength ones should) a truly ‘strong’ password. I have placed strong within inverted commas for a reason; one person’s strength is another’s weakness. So, while the user may well think that transposing an “a” for an “@”, and throwing a couple of exclamation marks at their partner’s name is strong, a hacker could crack it in less time than it took me to write this sentence.

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