Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 12.06.02 PM

Source: Flickr/yubikey

Are you curious about the two-factor authentication security technology recently adopted by popular online services like Twitter and Tumblr? It’s called “two-factor” because it uses a password plus another login credential. Typically, the second factor is a numeric code generated by a smartphone app. When you enable two-factor authentication for a service, you’ll scan a one-time-use QR code with your phone. From then on, the service sends your phone short-term codes every 30 seconds or so. When you want to log in, you’ll be asked for both your permanent password and the current code.

This increases security for two reasons. First, the numeric code changes constantly and is completely random, so it would be extremely hard for a hacker to guess. Second, the code is not stored in a database with your other credentials. So, even if your password becomes compromised, your account will stay safe.

By Sharon Campbell