Social engineering or basically tricking someone in to giving you their password is one of the most common methods of cybercrime. This if often done by sending a familiar looking email (e.g., from Bank of America) with a link in it that the user inadvertently clicks on and types in their password. Do this and the bad guys have you, right? Well not necessary. Increasingly websites require users to utilize two factor authentication which will prevent this nightmare scenario.
I find the simplest definition of two factor authentication to be “something you know and something you own”. A password is clearly “something you know” (assuming you don’t forget it) and the second factor is “something you own”. This must be something physical that is only in your possession and nearly impossible for someone else to emulate. In the past this was often a digital fob or token—a dedicated piece of hardware that would generate a random code. Now a days, however, those are a relic of the past and the preferred “something you own” is a cell phone. Almost everyone has the experience of a website texting you a code that you have to enter to authenticate. That is our modern-day version of two factor authentication.
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