How many online accounts do you have? Bank accounts, social media accounts, email accounts etc. We all use websites and mobile applications to manage money, store our information, connect with our friends, and make purchases from anywhere in the world. How many different passwords do you use and how secure are those passwords?

According to a survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. and the U.K., almost three-quarters of consumers use the same exact password for multiple accounts. What’s more, a large number of people haven’t changed that duplicate password in over five years. In the past year 2 in every 5 people have either received a notice that their personal information had been compromised, had an account hacked, or had a password stolen.

Password Quick Facts

  • 21% of people use passwords that are over 10 years old
  • 47% of people use passwords that are at least 5 years old
  • The five most popular passwords in 2014 were:
    • 123456
    • Password
    • 12345
    • 12345678
    • Qwerty
    • The user’s birthday or anniversary
  • 73% of online accounts are guarded by duplicated passwords
  • 54% of people use 5 or fewer passwords across their entire online life
  • On average, only 6 unique passwords are used to guard 24 online accounts

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a type of multi-factor authentication – which is a fancy way of saying that your login (authentication) requires more than one component (factor) to succeed.  These components can be something you know, something you have, or something which is inseparable from you.  Sometimes this is very simple; for an ATM you need both your bank card (a thing you have) and the PIN (a thing you know) = two factors.

Passwords by themselves can be stolen or hacked.  Two-Factor Authentication increases your security by adding a layer of protection on top of the password, making it significantly more difficult for a hacker to access your banking, shopping, social media and other online accounts.

Many forms of Two-Factor Authentication are now carried out using your cell phone as one of the two components (something you have).  This is very convenient since most people always have their cell phone with them and cell phones are usually associated with only one individual.  After you enter your password to login to a website that employs Two-Factor Authentication, you might get a second code sent to your phone via text, and only after you enter the second code into the webpage will you get into your account.

Protect Yourself

You will find Two-Factor Authentication offered on some of the websites you log in to.  Each online account you have should have a “Settings” area where you can activate Two-Factor Authentication if it is offered. If not, you should email the company, asking if or when they will be incorporating Two-Factor Authentication for extra security.

Each website that implements Two-Factor Authentication has a different activation process. Protect yourself and your online presence by following the instructions for each specific website when creating your passwords.

Here is an excellent resource for seeing what websites currently offer Two-factor Authentication, those that are working on implementing it, and those that lack it.

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