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Two Factor Authentication

In the previous parts I have mentioned Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication as an added measure to protect your online accounts. I will briefly explain exactly what it is and what it entails.

What is 2-Factor Authentication?

We have already established that to access an account, requires a Username or UserID and a password, the password provided is One-Factor of authentication. Two Factor or Multi-Factor authentication requires users to provide additional information to authenticate or confirm their identity. The more common means these days is to use a code/PIN which is either sent to you via an SMS or e-Mail message, or a PIN generated by an application.  The more common authentication applications are, Google Authenticator, Authy 2-Factor Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator

You need not use an application to use 2-Factor Authentication. Using the Help or Security section of your service such as Dropbox, Google, Hotmail or FaceBook for example, search for 2-Factor or Multi-Factor authentication and go through the steps to enable it on that platform as they will vary from service to service.
Where to get apps?

Depending which application you choose, you can usually obtain the app for your device from the appropriate App-Store. I use the Google Authenticator, which can be sourced from the Google Play Store, where you can also get the Microsoft authenticator among others. While there you will need a Bar/QR Code Reader


Using the Google Authenticator

Having downloaded and installed the authenticator of your choice, you will need to enable Two-Factor authentication for the particular service you want to use.  What follows are some screen shots  of the process for setting up Two-Factor Authentication on Dropbox, the process would vary but the concepts and steps are going to be largely the same.

Having logged into Dropbox, one goes to the Account Settings and select the Security Settings.

Dropbox Security Settings
Dropbox Security Settings

Enable two-factor authentication on the account.

Enable 2FA on Account
Enable 2FA on Account


Enable 2-Factor Authentication using a mobile app option

Use a mobile app

Having selected the mobile app option, a QR-Code would be displayed on the screen. On your mobile device – this could be a smart-phone or tablet device – to which the Bar Code Scanning and Google Authenticator Apps have been installed, start the Authenticator app’.  Choose the  Scan a Bar-code option to set up the Account or Service.

Add Account to GA App
Add Account to GA App


Once you have scanned the bar-code you will be required to enter a “sample” code from the App’ into the browser to synchronise the Google Authenticator and the Google.


Once the code has been entered into the browser and confirmed you will be required to enter both the password and a six digit PIN from the Google Authenticator App’.

Complete login with 2FA
Complete login with 2FA


Note the text encapsulated in the red rectangle. If the box is ticked, then you will not be asked for 2-Factor Authentication on at this site when using the specific PC. This option should ONLY be used on your own device or a trusted device perhaps a PC only used by yourself at work or home. You certainly should not use this option on a communal device or in an internet cafe.