What is Two-Factor Authentication

Enabling this extra layer of protection on your important online accounts can help keep you safer.

As more transactions move online, digital security has become more critical than ever. With so much personal information at stake, it makes sense to use as many of the security tools available as possible to secure your assets.

“Single passwords are not enough in 2019,” says Ivana Cojbasic, Information Security Manager for Regions Bank.

One increasingly popular security solution is two-factor authentication (2FA). It’s a step beyond your password and username that verifies your identity and makes it harder for online thieves to impersonate you. While the technology is still evolving, here’s why you should be using it today.

What does 2FA mean?

The “two-factor” in 2FA simply means using two steps and two different pieces of information to allow access to an account. In most cases, the first step is your username and password. The second step requires “something you know, something you have or something you are,” Cojbasic says. Whatever the method, 2FA offers a layer of protection that she sees as a necessity for account holders.

Here are a few examples of 2FA technology:

A code via text message

One of the simplest and most prevalent forms of 2FA is a text message with a numerical code sent to your mobile phone. You then enter that code into the company’s website or app for account access. While there is a risk that thieves can intercept these texts, the risk is relatively small, Cojbasic says.

An authenticator application

These apps generate a password that changes after a set amount of time—often a minute—has elapsed. Many banks offer authentication apps to their customers. “At Regions we have a few different software authenticator applications that we’ve created in-house,” Cojbasic says.

Finger swipes and voice recognition Cojbasic expects biometric authentication to become more common in online banking over the next few years. Especially as voice- and fingerprint-recognition technology spreads and retina scans mature to become cheaper and more convenient, these technologies may provide a new means of protection by using something that is truly unique to every customer.

Is 2FA enough?

Although 2FA provides more protection, it doesn’t eliminate risk. Cojbasic notes that even with 2FA, people still need to be wary and use common sense in how they protect and access their sensitive digital accounts. “Success still depends on the end user and how conscientious they are about choosing their passwords and changing them regularly.”


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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.