What is Two-Step Verification and Why Would You Need It?

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Keep your information secure with this simple addition.

Two-step verification is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — it’s a security process that requires users to use two methods of authentication to verify that they are who they say they are. You may not realize it, but you probably use it all the time! Every time your enter your PIN number after swiping your debit card, or show your ID after writing a check, you’re participating in a two-step verification process.

A version of this same process that we use to protect our personal finances can be used online to protect the data and information of your customers. It’s an extra step your online visitors have to go through, but it can be well worth it if security and protection are important to your business and making your customers’ data more secure is a priority for you.

There are three basic types of authentication:

  • Something you know, like a password, PIN, zip code or answer to a question
  • Something you have, like a phone, credit card or fob
  • Something you are, like a biometric such as a fingerprint, retina, face or voice scan

The most common form of two-step verification — also known as two-factor authentication — is entering your password to login, and then receiving a code via text message to enter as well. Two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers trying to steal your information because they would have to first steal your password, and then steal or hack your phone to access your account. This code is called a 2FA code, and can only be used one time. So each time you log on, you’re sent a different code.

Your customers can also use a dedicated authentication app to receive codes instead of having the codes texted to them. Popular apps include Google Authenticator, Authy and DuoMobile. Most sites and services give the customer an option of using SMS or an authentication app, although some companies — like Twitter, for example — force their customers to use SMS.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. — all of today’s largest websites and corporations — use two-step verification. It’s a very simple way to add an extra layer of security for your consumers. Since maintaining trust with your customer base is critical, especially in this age of information leaks and hacks, adding two-step verification could be an important step for your business.

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When she’s not playing the cello or brewing up a cup of coffee, Madison is working as a freelance writer. She has previously been published in Good Grit Magazine, Montevallo Today and The Alabamian. Madison likes to spend her time away from the keyboard rock climbing with her fiancé, David, and watching The Devil Wears Prada with Milo, her cat, curled in her lap.


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