Using 2FA can mean getting a one-time use code sent to your phone via text or app, or using a physical token, like a security key. The setup and use of 2FA adds a small amount of complexity, but ensures that even if someone obtains your password, they will not be able to log in to your account unless they also have your 2FA device.

There are several different types of second factors, each with benefits and drawbacks. Security keys are the most secure option and offer a better user experience. If you can afford to use a security key, you should. For most users, we recommend using a free app on your smartphone to generate your second factor codes. This option strikes a good balance between security and cost.

In some cases, your 2FA options will be limited by what your account provider offers. This website shows the types of 2FA used by different services: https://twofactorauth.org

 

Not Recommended

 Cost-effective recommendation

Most secure recommendation

2FA Type

  Code sent via text   message or email

 Code generated by    app on smartphone

Security Key

Examples

 N/A

 Authy, Duo, Google  Authenticator, etc

U2F security keys from Yubikey, Feitian, etc

Benefits

  • Easy to set up
  • Free
  • Easy to set up
  • Free
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Most secure option

 Drawbacks

  • Vulnerable to phishing
  • Users must copy six digits each login
  • Cost
  • May be easier to lose/forget than your phone

Cost

Free (with an existing unlimited text message plan)

Free (when used on an existing mobile device)

About $15-20 / key

How to access Second Factor

 N/A

 

While any of the apps mentioned in the table above will work, we recommend Authy or Duo Mobile. Each offers a good user experience and broad user community. You can most likely enable two factor authentication for many of your online accounts using either app. Because email typically holds a large amount of sensitive information and can be used to access your other accounts, it's good to start by enabling two factor authentication for your email account.

Additional info:

For help setting up your 2FA app or security key, attend one of our online training sessions, Protect your accounts from hackers.

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