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  • The Second Lock on the Door… Two Factor Authentication

    By Jim Libs, CPCU, Brown & Brown of Detroit Commercial Insurance Advisor

    Rarely a day goes by where we haven’t been inundated with news of another breach. They take many forms. It could be a retail establishment, a financial institution, or, as recently revealed, a credit monitoring company.  What should you be doing to protect your accounts?

    Essentially two factor authentication requires you to perform a second step before gaining access to your desired website or application. When you utilize two factor authentication, hackers need both your password and access to the other security code provided from a text to a phone, a keychain, or USB.

    If you haven’t already implemented it, you might consider using two factor authentication. Most online services should have this in their “settings”.  Text messages have been around a while and are simple. When you put in your password on a device a text message is sent to your phone with an additional password- key it in and you are able to log in and gain access.

    Apps developed by some of the largest online players like Google, Apple, and Amazon are building two factor authentication into their systems. Apple recently overhauled its 2FA and now you can go into your Apple ID settings and identify “trusted devices” that can be used to authenticate you.  You might want to do that with multiple devices in case one is not readily available e.g. iPhone and iPad.  With Facebook if you login on a new device or browser it will direct you to the code generator inside the Facebook app on your phone.  SMS texts are available as a backup option.

    Another alternative offered by some brokerage companies to protect access to your financial accounts are keychains. A small 2” LCD that has a screen that generates a new passcode a varying length every 60 seconds.  After you type in your initial password, you type in the six digit code to gain access. There are also available USB keys, such as YubiKey that transmits the code from your computer to the online service.  It might require a little set up but you don’t have to type in another code- it’s plug and play.

    Please remember that when it comes to security, nothing is foolproof. There’s a reason they make locks on doors with both the standard lock for the doorknob and a dead bolt lock to go with it.  Two factor authentication for your digital life should be no different, use them both for greater safety.

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