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2-factor authentication: an extra privacy safeguard

You either don't think about it much, or it serves as an annoyance: two-factor authentication on your smart devices. You know — that thing where anytime you sign in to something from a location not recognized, you get all kinds of warnings and have to enter passcodes sent to you by email -- hoops to jump through.

Prepare to continue to be annoyed by it, however, because it is becoming even more common, since it adds a second layer of protection to your accounts, apps or service in addition to your normal method of logging in. Think SMS codes to your mobile device or an extra tap to signify it's really you at the other end of the communication.

Two-factor authentication adds a confirmatory step to your sign-in attempt. So how does that protect you? "When someone tries to log into your account from a new device, or even new browser, with your password, when they hit "enter" or "submit", it'll take them to a new screen asking for a code. This code has been sent to the registered mobile number as an SMS," say Pocket-Lint's Cam Bunton and Adrian Willings.

They cite the example of WhatsApp, where you can't use your mobile number as its second verification method because it's already being used for your login. Instead, they say, it asks you for a 6-digit OIN number every once in a while or when you log in from a new smartphone.

It may be wise to think of these extra few steps as a very good thing, But also be sure to set up a recovery key and store it somewhere safe, such as inside a password-protected document or secure password app. Bunton and Willings say it's definitely worth the trouble, and add, "Once it's set up, it only adds one extra step to logging into your account from a new device or browser." For steps to enable two-factor authentication in Twitter, Facebook, or Google, just search online for instructions. They're all there.

Source: pocket-lint | TBWS