Two-factor authentication is a modern answer to the age-old terrible-password problem. While we still absolutely advise using a combination of 2FA and a complicated password, the latter is made easier by using a password manager, two-factor authentication creates a layer of security that’s infinitely trickier for low-effort hackers to bypass.
Adding two-factor authentication to any supported online accounts you have means logging in isn’t as simple as entering the correct username and password. Instead, once a correct username and password has been entered, a 2FA-protected account will then ask for a separate code to be inputted before you can get beyond the login screen.
Depending on the type of two-factor authentication, the code may be generated by a dedicated smartphone app or it may be a code that’s texted or emailed to your nominated mobile number or email address. Alternatively, it could involve approving a login request or selecting from a few code choices that correspond with a login request. Certain 2FA accounts use a physical token that randomly generates token codes, like what certain banks provide.
Even if you or someone else uses the correct username and password, there’s no to access the account without the correct 2FA code. On one hand, this makes lazy passwords and data leaks less of a pressing concern. On the other hand, it also means you need access to your phone, nominated email address, or 2FA token whenever you want to log in. To help with convenience, certain 2FA accounts will allow you to nominate trusted devices or browsers, which means you don’t have to reach for your phone whenever you log in.