I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but it was another friend getting their Gmail account hacked this week that prompted me to complete it. These days, hacking is a weekly event, on the news or internet in a frighteningly frequent basis. The days of not taking our internet security seriously are over.
I was lucky that this topic was on my radar far earlier than most. Due to working at a bank and needing to ensure that everything I and my team touches is secure to the highest level, I have been using 2-factor authentication (or 2-step verification) for a while.
I use 2-factor authentication for ALL my email accounts and ALL my social media (nearly all the major channels offer it). Yes, it makes my life just a little more inconvenient, I have to do an additional step to access my accounts, but it is far more convenient than getting hacked.
How it works
Let’s take Twitter for an example (but this is how it works for all platforms: email, social media, banks, etc.). When I go to log into Twitter on a computer or my phone I enter my new username and password. If I have 2-factor authentication set-up, I will get a text message (I suggest this method) or an email (or a phone call) with a 3-6 digit code (depending on the site) that I have to enter into an additional security screen. After entering the code, I will then be directed to the site, or my email box, etc.
If someone hacks your username and password, they would also have to have your cell phone too.
Please, please use 2-factor authentication.
Even if you are reading this and don’t use social media, you use personal email. Think about how many things are connected to your personal email address? How many e-commerce accounts? How much personal information? Lots!
The Wall Street Journal has the best article I have seen on what 2-factor is, with links to all the major sites instructional pages, so that you have a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
If you are visual, this video is pretty good (don’t mind the British accent!):
Here is a great article from Mashable about a lot of sites that were impacted by Heartbleed bug.
Having a complex password (and more than one) is another factor in making sure your online life is a little more secure. There are password vaults and password tools out there that can help you create complex passwords (and remember them!). LastPass is one highly recommended one, but there are many, including apps like Lookout.
What about you? Do you have any other online security tips you’d like to share?