How do the RICH protect their Online Accounts?

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Every year, several of my keynote speeches are to ultra-high-wealth audiences. Because they have a lot of net worth to protect, their incentive to prevent identity theft and online fraud is on steroids. But for the average family with a normal amount of wealth, the incentive is just as important, because their wealth (albeit smaller), is just as vital to their lifestyle as it is to the wealthy.

And this isn’t just about wealth. All of us want to be able to keep hackers out of our private and often valuable online accounts, including: Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, Hotmail, Yahoo, banks, investment companies and all types of sensitive communications.

The answer, regardless of your wealth, is two-factor authentication (which is way too complicated a term for such a simple concept – I think the IT department named it that to ensure their job security). Two-factor authentication is also referred to as multi-factor authentication, two-step verification, 2FA and security tokens, none of which you need remember.

What is two-factor authentication?

Instead of two-factor authentication, I prefer to use the more practical phrase: two-step logins. In other words, to login to an online account like Gmail, you need to complete Step 1 (entering a password that you KNOW) and then Step 2 (entering a secret code that you HAVE for a limited time). The simplest form of a two-step login is at your ATM machine.  You provide two things: an ATM card that you HAVE and then a PIN number (password) that you KNOW.  It’s a two-part procedure. Without both of those, it’s hard to hack.

So how does two-step verification work online?

One form of two-step logins online is called text verification (see this in action on the video above).  This is where you get a code texted to your mobile phone the minute you’ve entered your password on the website. So the password is something you KNOW and the mobile phone, with the text on it, is something you HAVE. Two factors to unlock the account – two steps needed to login. It’s more than twice the protection for very little work.

Why do two-step logins protect us so well?

Simple – it would be nearly impossible as the thief will almost never have your password AND your cell phone at the same time.  So even if identity thieves hack your password out of a database (like in the Target data breach), it’s useless without the code that comes to your phone. In most cases, the hackers are located overseas and would have no way to compromise your phone.

How do I set up two-step logins for my specific online account?

If you want to learn more about two-step logins for specific online accounts, click on the relevant link: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, SalesForceYahoo, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, Etrade, Charles Schwab, US Bank. Alternatively, check out this list of two-step login pages or google the account you want to protect with the words two step verification (e.g., Gmail two step verification) and you will find the answer yourself!

John Sileo specializes in making technology, identity and privacy fun for audiences, so that security sticks.  His keynote appearances include engagements at The Pentagon, VISA, Homeland Security and Pfizer as well as TV appearances on Rachel Ray, 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business. Book John directly on 800.258.8076.

Two-Factor Authentication