Question: What Is Two Factor Authentication?

Mar 29, 2016
Question of the Day, Identity Theft, Checking Accounts, New Products, Current Events, Cartoons

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A good question to kick off your Identity Theft class or your checking lessons. As more and more banking shifts online, it becomes more imperative than ever for consumers to protect their log-in credentials. This is where two factor authentication comes in (full disclosure: I use two factor authentication for all of my financial accounts).  This process goes one step beyond your username and password to prevent the situation described above.

From Brian Krebs blog (a noted security expert):

Multi-factor authentication, also often called “two-step” or “two factor” authentication, is a great way to improve the security of your various online accounts (where available). With multi-factor logins enabled, even if thieves somehow steal your account username and password they’ll still need access to the second factor — your mobile phone — to successfully hijack your account.

Here’s a diagram that helps explains how it works:

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So, after you enter your username and password, you receive a text (or email or phone call) with a PIN number that you then enter on the site to prove your identity.

So, how to engage your students with this concept?

  • Have them research the process to set up two factor authentication at their own bank (if available)
  • Identify financial institutions that offer two factor authentication and the method to sign up (there are various ways to accomplish this)
  • Research the reasons why some financial institutions may not offer this added security layer




About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.