2FA, MFA, Fuckin’A (eh!)

Passwords aren’t enough

Passwords inherently suck. We’re pretty bad at making good passwords and using them properly. Good passwords are hard to remember and even harder to type. The situation is so bad that we have to have software to manage our passwords for us.

Biometrics are cool, but hard to keep secure (try to image everything you’ve touched in the last 48 hours). They’re also impossible to rotate or revoke (unless you’re cool with someone surgically altering the patterns on your retinas).

There are other things we can use like certificates and encryption keys, but really, that’s just not going to work for the general public. The barrier to entry is too high.So what can we do?

So what can we do?

Welcome to MFA.

What is it? Simply put, it’s a second password that changes each time you use it.

How does it work? How does it work? There are three primary ways MFA works:

  1. The service you’re logging in to either sends you a text with the second secret code.
  2. You’ll use a small fob with changing numbers.
  3. You have an app on your phone that generates rotating numbers.

How to set it up? Go into your account settings and look for the place you change your password. It’s typically around there. It might be called 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multi-factor authentication). You might see a reference to OTP (one time password). Unfortunately not all sites and services support this (but should). If they do, they’ll make it easy to set up.

What’s the point? What do you gain? Someone can’t just steal (or guess) your password and gain access to your account. That’s it.

Any drawbacks? Well, it can be a bit of a pain in the ass if you lose your device. Without the second code, you can’t access your service. That’s the whole point. Most systems do have a recovery process if you get stuck here.

That’s it. Go turn it on wherever you can.

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