When 2FA is enabled, you must undergo a second authentication process once you enter your username and password. You may have to verify your identity using one of the following methods:

  • Something you know, such as your mother’s maiden name or a personal identification number
  • Something you have, like your smartphone or credit card
  • Something personal to you, such as a scan of your fingerprint or the iris of your eye

2FA is more secure because even if your password has been compromised, the hacker likely won’t have the second piece of information needed to complete the authentication process. For example, if a website is set up to send a code to your smartphone as the second form of authentication, the hacker probably won’t have your smartphone. Thus it prevents an unauthorized user from gaining access to your account.

How Does 2FA Help You?

2FA helps you avoid the consequences of several password-related problems. Many people now have dozens of online accounts, making it difficult to remember the password to each one. As a result, some people write down their passwords, increasing the risk that an unauthorized individual can access a private account.

Password recycling is also a common problem. This occurs when people use the same password for multiple accounts. Hackers take advantage of password recycling by testing stolen usernames and passwords against popular websites. If you have the same username and password for multiple sites, the hacker can use your stolen credentials from one site to log in to multiple accounts.

Types of 2FA


Biometric authentication is one of the most secure forms of 2FA because it relies on something you are. It’s very unlikely that a hacker will be able to capture your fingerprints or voice, and the technology is so new that hackers haven’t had a chance to develop effective methods of bypassing it.

This type of authentication is so secure because fingerprints, voice prints, hand shapes, and other accepted forms contain many data points. Even if a hacker could replicate one point, doing them all would be extremely difficult. When used by corporations, biometric authentication also reduces costs by eliminating the need for key cards and security passes.


Hardware authentication requires physical possession of a security key. With a security key, you plug the device into your computer when you’re signing into a service that uses 2FA.

A security key is considered one of the most secure 2FA layers because a hacker is unlikely to have your physical security key in hand to complete the 2FA authentication.

Push notifications

These alert you when someone is trying to access one of your accounts. If a website uses push notifications, you’ll receive a notification on your smartphone or other device every time you attempt to log in. When the notification pops up, you can approve it immediately, reducing the time it takes to access your account.

You can deny the attempt if an unauthorized person attempts to log in. One of the main drawbacks of this type of 2FA is that you may have difficulty receiving notifications in an area with a poor internet connection.

SMS messages or voice-based authentication

SMS and voice-based authentication use your smartphone to control access to your online accounts. For sites using SMS authentication, you enter your username and password as usual. Then, the website sends you a text message containing a one-time passcode that can be used to complete the second step of the authentication process.

Voice-based authentication works much the same way. Instead of sending you a one-time passcode via SMS, the website automatically calls your smartphone. You receive a one-time passcode from the automated voice system when you answer the call.

Software tokens

These are an alternative to SMS and voice-based authentication. Instead of receiving a one-time passcode via text message or phone, you must download and install a 2FA application on your computer or mobile device. After entering your username and password, you must check the 2FA application and enter the code that appears.

In many cases, the code is valid for only a minute; if you don’t enter it within the allotted time, you’ll need to generate a new code to access the website. A major advantage of using software tokens is a reduced risk of passcode interception because you use just one device to generate and display the code.

What Websites and Apps Use 2FA?

Although many websites still rely on usernames and passwords, 2FA isn’t a new form of technology. The chip-and-pin technology used to prevent the unauthorized use of debit and credit cards was developed nearly two decades ago.

Since then, companies in many industries have implemented 2FA to make their sites more secure. These industries include banking, education, finance, entertainment, gaming, and retail. Several major companies, including Facebook and Google, now offer 2FA to protect your personal information. Just log in to your account and enable 2FA.



  • What is 2FA, and how does it work?

    It is a security system requiring two distinct forms of identification to access something. The first factor is a password, and the second usually includes a text with a code sent to your smartphone or biometrics using your fingerprint, face, or retina.

  • What is an example of 2FA?

    An example is when you use your credit card and are prompted for your billing zip code.

  • What is 2FA on phones?

    2FA entails validating your identity on mobile phones by texting a security code to your mobile device. You then enter the code into the website or application you’re authenticating.

  • What happens when 2FA is on?

    When 2FA works properly, a trusted device or phone number helps verify your identity when you sign in to a new device or browser.

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About The Password Manager, Gunnar Kallstrom:

Kallstrom, The Password Manager, is a Cyber Team Lead for a Department of Defense (DOD) contracting company in Huntsville, Alabama, and has worked as a Computer Network Defense (CND) Cyber Analyst. An author and content creator for a cybersecurity academy, Kallstrom spent nearly 15 years in the Army as a musician before entering the cybersecurity field.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Thomas Edison State University and a master’s in organizational development and leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word.

Kallstrom has completed several Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) courses, including Security+, Network+, A+ Core 1, and A+ Core 2. He earned a CompTIA Security+ Certification. Additionally, he has completed the Cyber Warrior Academy program with more than 800 hours of hands-on, intensive, and lab-driven technical training in cybersecurity methods and procedures.

Passionate about all things cyber, Kallstrom was a speaker on a panel at the 2022 InfoSec World conference, giving a talk entitled “Hacking into a Cyber Career – True Stories.” Kallstrom is also a mentor to entry-level cybersecurity candidates seeking to break into the field. When he’s not working, he still enjoys playing guitar and fishing (not phishing).