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Why is two-factor authentication important?

With the amount of personal information online, one of the best ways to protect yourself from cyber criminals is to set up two-factor authentication for accounts.

WASHINGTON — Does it feel like cybercrimes are at an all-time high? It seems like every couple weeks there's news of another company that has been a victim of data breaches.

While the amount of personal information that gets exposed can vary widely from one data breach to the next, sometimes the info that gets out is enough to put you at risk. 

Two-factor authentication, also known as 2-step verification, is an extra layer of security for your online accounts. It prevents someone from logging in to your accounts, even if they have the password.

In recent years, companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Facebook have been victims of data breaches, and according to Forbes, cyber criminals show no signs of slowing down.

There are three main types of two-factor authentication; security questions and PIN numbers, mobile apps that receive additional login credentials, and biometric login credentials like retina scans, fingerprints and facial recognition.

Setting up two-factor authentication can vary depending on the website or app you are using, but generally, you can go into your account settings and select settings and privacy. Next, select password and security and then choose ‘two-factor authentication.’ Once you’ve done that, select a security method that you prefer.

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Think of two-factor authentication like an extra coat of protection. If a hacker has your username and password, they’ll still need a unique security code, additional credentials or a biometric login to gain access to your account.

Every time that you try to log in to your account, two-factor authentication will be required. This extra step may seem like a hassle, but over 155 million individuals were affected by data exposure in 2020, according to Statista.

RELATED: Protecting your passwords during Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Two-factor authentication may not be able to stop all data breaches, but it is more secure than just a username and password.

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