Two-factor authentication ( 2FA) provides a way of double checking that you’re really the person you’re claiming to be when you log into your online accounts, such as social media, email or banking.
When you log into an online account with a username and password, you’re using what’s called single-factor authentication. You only need to enter one set of login information - your username and password.
With 2FA, you need to enter two sets of login information before you're granted access to your account:
- your username and password
- and something else such as a code sent to your mobile device or your fingerprint.
When you have login information to remember for all your many online accounts, it gets very difficult to ensure that you use strong passwords all the time. While 2FA doesn't suggest that you don't need a strong password, it does help protect your account if you password isn't that strong (or even if you've recycled that password or used it for more than one system). A range of websites have integrated two-factor authentication to their log-in processes. We'll try to cover some of the more popular ones and the steps to enable it below:
You can set up two-factor authentication for your Facebook account on the web or from within the mobile app. Facebook has several authentication options available, but for simplicity's sake we'll stick with showing you how to enable it with SMS text messages.
- Sign into your Facebook account on the web or from the official mobile app.
- If you're on the web, click the downward arrow in the top right corner and then click Settings from the dropdown menu followed by Security and Login in the left vertical menu. If you're on mobile, tap the hamburger iconon the far right of the bottom menu, tap to View your profile, tap the three dots labeled More, tap View Privacy Shortcuts, tap More Settings and finally tap Security and Login.
- Scroll down to Setting Up Extra Security and tap Use two-factor authentication (for both web and mobile).
- On the web, click Add Phone beside the Text Message (SMS) option to add your phone number and confirm your number by entering in the code sent to you by text. On mobile, tap the checkbox beside Two-factor authenticationat the top and then tap Start Setup > Continue to have a code sent to your device that you can use to confirm your number.
- On the web, click Enable under Text Message (SMS) once you have a phone number set up. On mobile, tap Close to finish the setup process.
Although Instagram can be accessed on the web, its use is limited—and that includes enabling two-factor authentication. If you want to enable it, you'll have to do it from within the mobile app.
- Sign into your Instagram account using the app on a mobile device.
- Open the app and navigate to your profile by tapping your profile picture in the right corner of the main menu at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap the gear icon to access your settings.
- Scroll down and tap Two-Factor Authentication under the Account options.
- Tap the Require Security Code button to turn it on so it appears green.
- Tap Add Number on the popup box that appears over the screen
- Enter your phone number in the given field and tap Next. A confirmation code will be texted to you.
- Enter the confirmation code into the given field and tap Done.
- Tap OK on the popup box to take a screenshot of the backup codes Instagram provides you with in case you can't receive a security code by text and need to get back into your account.
Snapchat is a mobile-only social network, so there's no option to sign into a web version. If you want to enable two-factor authentication, you have to do it entirely through the app.
- Sign into your Snapchat account using the app on a mobile device.
- Open the app and tap the ghost icon in the top left corner of the screen to pull down your Snapcode profile.
- Tap the gear icon in the top right corner to access your settings.
- Tap Mobile Number under My Account to add your phone number to the app if you haven't done so already.
- Navigate back to the previous tab by tapping the back arrow in the top left corner and then tap Login Verification > Continue.
- Tap SMS. A verification code will be texted to you.
- Enter the verification code into the given field and then tap Continue.
- Tap Generate Code to get a recovery code in case you change your phone number and need to long into your account. Enter your password to continue.
- Take a screenshot of the recovery code that is generated for you or write it down and keep it somewhere safe. Tap I wrote it down when you're done.
Like Facebook, Twitter allows you to set up two-factor authentication on the regular web and from within the mobile app. Several authentication options are also available, but again, like Facebook, we'll stick with the easiest option—verification by phone.
- Sign into your Twitter account on the web or from the official mobile app.
- If you're on the web, click your profile picture in the top right of the screen and then click Settings and privacy from the dropdown menu. If you're using the mobile app, navigate to Me from the bottom menu to pull up your profile, tap the gear icon and then tap Settings and privacy from the menu that slides up.
- On the web, scroll down to the Security section and click add a phone under the Login verification: Verify login requests checkbox. On mobile, tap Account from the Settings and privacy tab > Security and then turn on the Login verification button so it turns green.
- On the web, select your country, enter your phone number in the given field and tap Continue. On mobile, tap Confirm > Start after turning on Login verification and then verify your password. Select your country and enter your phone number into the given field. Tap Send code.
- On the web, enter the code that was texted to you into the given field and click Activate code. On mobile, enter the code that was texted to you and tap Submit. Tap Done in the top right corner.
- On the web, navigate back to Settings and privacy to make sure the Verify login requests checkbox is checked off. On mobile, navigate to your Settings (gear icon) > Settings and privacy > Account > Security to make sure the Login verification button is turned on.
Note that these social medial platforms often change the way in which they do things so the steps above may have to be modified as time goes by.