What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security used to ensure that people trying to access an online account are who they say they are. The two factors required to authenticate your account are:

  1. Login credentials
  2. Unique Identifier (one-time code) 


photo credit: mit.edu

How Does Two-Factor Authentication Work?

1) The user is prompted to sign in with their login credentials (usually, username and password).

  • The server finds a match and recognizes the user in their database.

2) The user is prompted to initiate a second login step.

  • The user provides a unique identifier to prove their identity, such as a security token or a temporary (one-time), six-digit code. 

3) The user enters the one-time code generated from the previous step.

4) The user is granted access to the application or website.

  • Providing both factors will authenticate the user and grant access.
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