Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a security process that requires two different methods of identification from the user to grant access to an account or system. It adds an extra layer of security beyond just a username and password, which are often susceptible to theft or hacking.
Here’s how 2FA typically works:
- Something you know: This is usually your username and password, which is the first factor of authentication.
- Something you have: This is the second factor, and it’s typically a temporary code or token that is generated or sent to you through a separate device or method. Common forms of the second factor include:
- One-time passwords (OTP) generated by a mobile app or sent via SMS.
- Smart cards or physical tokens.
- Biometric data, such as fingerprints or facial recognition.
To gain access to an account or system, a user must provide both factors: something they know (password) and something they have (the second factor). Even if an attacker manages to steal or guess your password, they would still need the second factor to gain access, which significantly enhances security.
2FA is widely used to secure various online services, including email accounts, social media platforms, banking websites, and more. It greatly reduces the risk of unauthorized access and helps protect sensitive information from cyber threats like phishing and password breaches.