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NCSA Pushes For Two-Factor Authentication For Passwords

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has urged online users to start using two-factor authentication in order to protect their personal data and online accounts. Speaking at a cybersecurity event at downtown Sacramento, NCSA representatives explained why just using secure passwords is no longer enough and how people can ensure the integrity of their digital data by using features such as two-factor authentication. The event was a part of multi-city tour organized by the agency with the hope of increasing awareness about online security among the general public.

Two-factor authentication (2FA, also known as two-step verification) was introduced as an additional security step to improve the overall security of the login process. When you opt for two-factor authentication for a particular website, you must not only supply your username and password information but also an additional verification code or PIN sent by the service provider to your mobile number. This improves the online security scenario dramatically since hackers won’t be able to log into accounts just by stealing usernames and passwords; they would also need access to the mobile devices of their intended victims.

During the event, NCSA advocated the use of two-factor authentication by saying that it is a powerful feature that can make a significant difference in protecting our personal information. While the use of the feature increases the login time, it also ensures that individuals and businesses remain safe from the rising number of online breaches and security threats.

These days two-factor authentication is not only being used by banks and financial services to safeguard financial data and transactions, it has also been adopted by service providers like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter and Dropbox to secure their services. If you want to check whether your favorite emailing service or social network is offering two-step verification security, simply head to https://twofactorauth.org/.

The NCSA also has a word of advice regarding how to create really strong passwords. The agency recommends choosing a long but easy to remember phrase as the foundation and then form passwords simply by taking the first alphabet of every word. The passwords can be made more complex by adding numbers and special characters and by ensuring that capital letters are used for names, places and events. NCSA gave the example of the phrase “the Seattle Seahawks will win the Super Bowl again” which can be used to form a password like “tSSwwtSB2”. Since people also like to one password for multiple accounts, the above password can be modified for different sites simply by suffixing it with the first letter of the site (for instance “tSSwwtSB2g” for Gmail and so on).

Speaking at the event, FBI special agent Wes Drone also stressed the importance of protecting email accounts. He said that if a hacker somehow gets access to the primary email account of a person, he can easily reset passwords services like Facebook, Paypal and even banking sites. He also mentioned that since email accounts are used to authenticate every other account and service, it is best to protect it with the two-factor authentication feature.

May 10, 2015

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