Preventing the Nightmare, Part 3 - Multi-factor Authentication
Something you know. Something you have. One more layer of protection for your online life.
Preface: This particular technology topic is tough for me to communicate the benefits and “articulate the why” while preventing most folks from mentally checking out and shying away from considering its use in their online life. I hope that you will be patient with my attempt to explain what this layer of online security is and why matters to me. I appreciate it!
To avoid the Nightmare Scenario, I have spent a number of hours updating my online account passwords to consist of unmemorizable randomized characters, at least 30 in length, stored in an encrypted password manager vault. But I didn’t stop there. I have adopted one more gate of protection for my online account security.
The Second Layer
For all online websites which provide it, I have turned on multi-factor authentication (MFA), or two-factor authentication (2FA). This is an additional level of security which requires correct authentication in order to access an online account. Should the adversary, even if they were to capture your long complicated account password in a server hack or a phishing attack, would also need your actual phone in order to get into your account. You might currently be using MFA in your online life with six-digit codes sent to your phone via text messages after successfully logging into some websites. There is another type of MFA that I use that has helped me the past few years.
A MFA authenticator application is a piece of software that is usually free and available for installation on all operating systems and devices. I have my MFA authenticator application in two locations: my mobile phone and my primary desktop computer. I can add a website to my authenticator app by scanning a QR code on its webpage, then it will display a random 6-number code that changes every 30 to 60 seconds depending on your application. Once enabled, every time I login to a website with my password, auto-filled from my Bitwarden vault, I open my authenticator app and enter the current 6-digit code to enter my website.
A very popular MFA application to consider is Twilio’s Authy. This helpful video by Think Tutorial shows how you can set up Authy MFA with a Facebook account. I have all of my important accounts set up with MFA as well as the major online retails websites (yes, those online sites you’re probably thinking of).
I am aware that this is not a very popular mindset, but I believe it should be difficult for us to access our sensitive data online. A strong password and a frequently-changing code are two big steps towards protecting our online accounts and preventing our adversaries around the world from having success hacking our online accounts.\
Thanks for your time. I do appreciate it,