Two-factor authentication: What it is, how it works and what it is used for?

The two-factor authentication is a method of access to websites, apps and services increasingly used because it provides protection and security, fundamental elements in the digital environment and which is very important to carefully read up.

Do you want to find out how it works and what it can do for you? In this post, I will explain exactly what it is, what it is used for and how to use it.

Two-factor authentication is also supported by WordPress, one of the best CMS and certainly the most used. If you then choose to host your website in a dedicated hosting , then make the right choice by securing all your data.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication, also known as Strong Authentication or 2FA, from the English Two Factor Authentication, is a practical and valuable method to make your accounts and access more secure.

It is a way to access your web accounts or internet services of interest to you securely. How? Being able to enter only after entering two factors.

The two steps to which two-factor authentication refers are:

  • Entering your username (or email address) and associated password;
  • Subsequent insertion of a secret pin code that will be generated every time you log in to that specific service or website and that you and only you will receive.

I’ll explain.

How two-factor authentication works

Two-factor authentication allows you to access a website or web service in two steps. At first, you need to enter your login credentials, i.e. username and password (first factor).

After that the system will ask you to enter the second factor. Depending on the case, this can be:

  • A pin code that arrives via SMS on your smartphone;
  • A pin code that arrives to you by e-mail on your e-mail box;
  • A pin code that comes to you via a security hardware token, such as the keys that banks use;
  • A biometric factor, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition. Usually this type of second factor is used by the most advanced services and systems.

But there is also another way, much more practical and faster, to take advantage of the two-factor authentication method. It is the use of dedicated services or applications that allow you to generate secret codes in a simple and safe way.

Among the most used apps, LastPass, Google Authenticator, Authy, Microsoft Authenticator and 1Password.

But what if you forget your smartphone in the office or if the app you use to generate the code is temporarily unavailable?

Usually services that support two-factor authentication allow you to establish additional options for generating the second factor. For example, you can choose to receive a phone call or a list of backup codes that you can use in emergency situations.

What is two-factor authentication used for?

Two-factor authentication is, first of all, a system that guarantees and protects your security. What would happen if someone were to get hold of your personal access data, for example, to your bank’s website?

Even if this happens, two-factor authentication, instantly generating a secret pin code that will reach you and only you (by e-mail, via SMS on your smartphone or via the app), allows you not to take any risk.

There is another positive side of the coin. If you ever receive an unsolicited authentication code, you will know that someone has come into possession of your passwords.

The services and websites that support two-factor authentication

Except in cases where it is mandatory (such as banking), you must activate two-factor authentication manually, by accessing the advanced security settings of the specific website.

Which websites support two-factor authentication? I mention the best known and most used: Google, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Dropbox, LinkedIn, WordPress, Outlook, Apple, WhatsApp, Yahoo!.

With this tool, you activate an extra step in terms of security to authenticate the Google account, verify the Apple ID, ask for the Facebook confirmation code and lately also in the field of video games and consoles: two-factor authentication is known Epic Game and Fortnite two-factor authentication.


You are now ready to activate two-factor authentication on the websites you use and which store your often sensitive personal data.

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