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What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra step that is added onto your log-in process to achieve a higher profile of security. Cybercriminals are always hungry for passwords and unprotected passwords can allow them to gain access to your bank account, credit cards or even personal websites. Though one quick way to boost the safety of your account is by having a two-factor authentication – also known as 2FA – which adds an extra layer of security to your accounts

Why do I need 2FA?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra step that verifies the identity of the account to the owner and prevent anyone else from accessing your private information, such as a code sent to your phone or a fingerprint scan. 2FA offers an extra level of security that can’t be easily accessed, as you need more than username and password credentials. 2FA is the smaller version of multi-factor authentication, a method that requires a user to prove their identity in multiple ways before they are allowed access to an account. Two-factor authentication is so named because it requires a combination of two factors, whereas multi-factor authentication may require more.

An ATM card is an example of two-factor authentication in the real world. In addition to physically presenting the card, you also need to type in your PIN to access your account.

How 2FA works
A 2FA factor is what you will need to access the account, and they are generally broken into three categories:

  • 1) Knowledge: These factors require you to know something, like security questions, a PIN sent to your device, or a specific keystroke.
  • 2) Possession: The user must physically possess the factor, like a debit card or a USB drive, and insert it into the device to gain entry.
  • 3) Biology: Access is granted once the user proves their identity through biological markers like a fingerprint or voice.

Types of 2FA
  • 1) Hardware Token – Physical token (USB)
  • 2) SMS and Voice – Text or voice message giving you a code that you must then enter to access a site or account.
  • 3) Push notifications – App on any phone will pop out a push notification for verification
  • 4) Biometrics – Fingerprint / face scanner.

A harsh reality is that nothing is 100 percent secure. Even if you have 2FA activated, there are ways that criminals can bypass the system and access your account. For example, forgotten password recovery restores your password through email and bypasses 2FA. However, adding an extra roadblock for cybercriminals attempting to access your accounts is preferable than taking a chance and leaving yourself unprotected by not setting 2FA.

Want to Learn More About 2FA?
Many businesses find that partnering with a professional is better and cost-effective than building 2FA themselves. ACM provides a comprehensive suite of authentication APIs. Check it out with us at 62955962 or email us at

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