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What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that adds an additional layer of protection to the traditional username and password login process. With 2FA, users are required to provide a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to their phone or a fingerprint scan, in addition to their username and password.

Think of this as “something you know” (your username/password combination) plus “one other thing”; something you have or something you are. You may “have” a hardware token or an authenticator application that provides a code every 60-120 seconds, or “you” might entail your face, your eyes, or your fingerprint.

The purpose of 2FA is to prevent unauthorized access to an account, even if someone manages to obtain or guess the user’s password. With 2FA, an attacker would also need access to the user’s second factor, which is typically a physical device that only the user possesses.

2FA is important because it significantly increases the security of online accounts and helps protect against a variety of threats, such as phishing, password theft, and other forms of cybercrime. By requiring a second factor of authentication, 2FA makes it much more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information and data. As such, it is recommended that users enable 2FA wherever possible to enhance the security of their online accounts.