With so much of our lives spent online and our personal information used everywhere we have an account, getting hacked can be a catastrophic and costly experience for anyone. Not only is there the inconvenience of losing access to your social-media accounts, contacts, email, photos or other data, your accounts can be used by others to commit crimes or do other ghastly things online and have it look like you. Your personal or professional reputations could be irreparably damaged when an important account is hacked and used to post unsavoury things or commit crimes.
There is a simple way to (begin to) protect yourself!
Changing your password regularly or using long complex passphrases (which you should) is NO LONGER ENOUGH to protect yourself online today. Most security experts will tell you the same thing. The solution is to use Two/Multi-Factor Authentication (TFA) for all you important accounts, STARTING WITH EMAIL! Since we use our email accounts for creating many other accounts on different sites, if your email account is hacked it could open the door to other accounts being hacked, or prevent you from accessing other accounts where you used that email address.
SETUP TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION NOW!
TFA works by combining something you know (username/password) with something you own (cell phone). When you set up TFA the first time you will get a code sent through SMS to your phone which you also need to type in along with your username and password. But you DONT HAVE TO DO THIS EVERY TIME you login. Once you have authenticated the first time you can (usually) check a box somewhere so your browser/location is trusted, and then you wont need to login with the code unless you use a different computer or device, or completely flush your cache and cookies.
So do yourself a favour and protect your online life by setting up TFA for your email account FIRST and then any other important accounts. Below are links to some common services and how to set up TFA. If yours is not listed, just search Google for “how to setup two factor authentication for <service name>”.
- Google/Gmail: https://goo.gl/5VTixT
- AppleID/email: https://goo.gl/xqb2dA
- Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail: https://goo.gl/CvAL3C
- Yahoo/Mail: https://goo.gl/wQGXKw
- Facebook: https://goo.gl/FDbqQD
- Twitter: https://goo.gl/AfPX9y
- Linkedin: https://goo.gl/3eiPbn
NOTE: Since your phone will become very important for accessing your accounts, should you lose your phone you will need to use/configure an alternate cell phone number from a friend, or use backup-codes for that service – most TFA options offer both. Many services also allow a third-party Code Generator. So after setting up your TFA for an important account, ask a friend or family member if they can be used as a backup phone to receive a code (not all TFA services support this). Most also allow you to download a set of backup codes which you can print out or send to another email account in case you lose your phone, have no backup cell number