Authentication and Passwords 101 (Yes, You Need Both!)

  Your accounts and platforms should involve multiple layers of security. The first, basic layer is a username and password. Even if you have a strong password (congrats if you do, read this post on password managers if you don’t), for more security, consider additional layers of protection and authentication. Let’s define some terms that Read More

 

Barbara Trapp and digital authentication typesYour accounts and platforms should involve multiple layers of security. The first, basic layer is a username and password. Even if you have a strong password (congrats if you do, read this post on password managers if you don’t), for more security, consider additional layers of protection and authentication.

Let’s define some terms that have gotten many, including me, confused. First, the terms “authentication” and “verification” are used interchangeably, so consider Two-Step Authentication and Two-Step Verification the same.

Authentication is proven by three different types of authentication factors:

  • What you know: Password, PIN, answer to a security question
  • What you have: Phone or other device you can retrieve a code from
  • Who you are: Biometrics such as facial recognition, iris, fingerprint

Two-Step Authentication (2SA)

This refers to two things you know, such as a password, PIN, security answer, and/or email confirmation which you could receive on any device, not just your phone. If you must provide three pieces of information (still just one type of authentication) it would be 3SA.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

This refers to exactly two different types of authentication, such as one thing you know and one thing you have, like a password and a phone to retrieve a code from. This makes it 2FA.

Now – grab your coffee or tea…

If you provide a password and answer a security question (what you know) and then receive a push notification from your phone (what you have), it is considered 3SA because there were three things. But, this is also just 2FA because there were just two types used (two things you know and one thing you have). Got it? Good!

A 2FA combination of a password and phone is a safe option unless…someone has access to your password and phone. A “who you are” type of authentication, such as a fingerprint scan or facial recognition technology, provides even more security. 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Don’t be confused by this one. MFA just refers to at least two or more types of authentication. This could be 2FA, 3FA, 4FA (think James Bond), etc. For example, a password, a push notification on your phone, and then a fingerprint provides three-factor authentication (3FA). 

Whew! To summarize, use at least 2FA whenever possible, and the more layers the better. Three things are three layers or levels of protection, which is better than just a username and password!

Passwords

Now about your passwords… Are they reused? Are they short or long? Are they weak or strong?  I’m channeling Dr. Seuss here to lighten up this brain-melting topic. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to create secure passwords you can remember. The bad news is they really all need to be different and updated on a regular basis. And you need to be able to access them whereever you are, right?

So, how do you keep track of it all? This post about password managers can help you organize and strengthen your login information.  I know I’m repeating myself, but I feel that strongly about everyone having a good system in place to ward off and thwart hackers and other not-so-nice people who could cause chaos by gaining access to your digital life. 

Speaking of chaos…

Are you overwhelmed by digital clutter? Organizing your digital life is just as important as organizing your kitchen, closets, or office. My digital organizing services can help you declutter your mind and help you be more efficient and productive.  I’d love to help you get some clarity so you can live the life you desire! Schedule your free consult here.

Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den®  and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)

Improve Your Cybersecurity with These 6 Things

  I am a LastPass affiliate and may receive a small commission if you use my referral link, but it will not cost you more if you do. Organizing your digital life is just as important as organizing your kitchen, closets, or office. That includes protecting your digital files, documents, platforms, and accounts by following Read More

 
I am a LastPass affiliate and may receive a small commission if you use my referral link, but it will not cost you more if you do.

Overhead view of hands at computer keyboardOrganizing your digital life is just as important as organizing your kitchen, closets, or office. That includes protecting your digital files, documents, platforms, and accounts by following good cybersecurity practices. 

Here are 6 things to do to improve your cybersecurity:

  1. Don’t answer social media questions like, “What was the first car you ever owned?” or “What was the name of your first pet?” This information is often used for answers to security questions.
  2. If you are using public WIFI and suddenly everyone gets booted off the network, do not rejoin. A hacker may be at work, gaining access as users log back on.
  3. If you make up answers to security questions, write them down. Better yet, store your security questions and answers in the notes section of an online password management system.
  4. Change your passwords at least every six months to a year.
  5. If you use a third-party password manager, you’ll need a “master” password. This is the one password you must write down and keep in a safe place.
  6. A password can be strong and still readable. Let’s dig into this…

Did you know spaces are considered characters? This means you can create a strong password that is easy to remember and feels natural to type. Consider a memorable phrase such as:

My cat writes B00ks!

This example has 20 characters, two numbers (zeros), upper- and lower-case letters, and a special character. It’s easy to remember, but hard to crack!

Here’s another example:

86 the Steak & Cardboard!

This example has 24 characters, two numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and two special characters. 

Online Password Managers

As much fun as it now is to create a memorable and safer password, you still shouldn’t reuse them. This is why I recommend a third-party online password manager. Then you only need to manage and update ONE awesome master password, and let the app do the rest. My favorite tool, and the one many cybersecurity experts I’ve spoken with recommend, is LastPass and you can get it here.

LastPass encrypts your data as you type it and sends it to the cloud. It’s stored on company servers behind a physical wall with security. They cannot see your passwords, nor can they retrieve your master password. That’s why you need to write that password down and keep it in a safe place! For more on password management systems, both online and paper, refer to my previous post, Get a Password Manager and Get Organized!

Let’s Organize Your Digital Life

Your assignment:

  • Review your passwords and make them easier to remember, but  harder to crack.
  • Share these password tips with elderly friends and family members.

Overwhelmed with digital clutter? Organizing your digital life is just as important as organizing your kitchen, closets, or office. My digital organizing services can help you declutter your mind and help you be more efficient and productive. Call 904-500-7678 (SORT), message me or schedule your free consult. I’d love to help you get some clarity so you can live the life you desire!

Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den®  and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)