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How to Use 2-Factor Authentication

Cybersecurity. Identity theft. These are not new topics; in fact, the over-saturation of information regarding these issues may inadvertently cause us to be lax in our efforts to take concrete steps to protect ourselves. What have you done lately to protect yourself and your family members from cybercrime and identity theft?

One of the best ways to protect yourself online today is by taking advantage of 2-factor authentication. Upon logging in to a website, this method confirms a user’s identity by utilizing a combination of two different components. You already use this system when you withdraw cash from the ATM – your card acts as the first authentication method and your pin is the second. When logging in to many popular online sites, the most common 2-factor authentication process will prompt you to enter your username and password, and a second step – which can be either answering a security question or entering a pin. You can sign up for codes to be sent to your cell phone or email, or generated via a mobile app such as Google Authenticator. This is quite convenient considering many of us keep our cell phones nearby for most of the day.  

Another method used in 2-factor authentication is a hardware or software token. Schwab offers a free service to clients via SchwabSafe—this program makes every login more secure by using a token, a small device that creates a six-digit number that serves as an additional password every time you log in. A token, in essence, gives you a new numeric password each time you log in. Fidelity also offers this service via a simple application that can be downloaded to your phone or desktop, generating a numeric pin for each time you log in. We encourage all of our clients to take advantage of these extra security features.

Don’t just stop at online banking and investment accounts. Activate 2-factor authentication to your email, social networking sites, and often-used shopping sites. A list of websites that utilize this method can be found here. Many of these sites offer customization of these features under your account page via security settings. Don’t like the idea of going through a 2-step process each time you log in? Instead, opt for 2-step authentication only when logging in from an unrecognized computer (the sites know your usual computers based on the IP addresses).

What you’ve heard is true, it is impossible to completely protect your information from hackers (unless you are completely off the grid and never use the internet, credit cards, or have a bank account). However, the more roadblocks you have in place, the more likely they are to get frustrated and move along. Many of your favorite sites store your personal information including credit card or bank routing numbers. Adding a 10 second verification process while visiting your favorite sites can decrease the likelihood of having information stolen and used against you. One extra step may save you from a big headache, so why not take some time to add an extra layer of protection?

Diana Lormand, FPQP™
Director of Client Services

Baldrige Asset Management LLC is registered as an investment adviser with the SEC and only conducts business in states where it is properly notice filed, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. Discussions on our blog do not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but are limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any strategy that may be suggested. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the Commission nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability.

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