Today, account security is a major concern for businesses and their employees.

If you get hacked, it can pose a huge threat to your employer. For example, if someone hacks your Gmail account, they will have access to company contacts, as well as your calendar, Docs, Google Sheets, and other personal company information.

Because of this, Duo Mobile and other two-factor authentication apps have become increasingly popular.

Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is a security process that you can enable on any of your devices, including your iPhone, Mac, Gmail account, or social media accounts like Facebook.

Learn what two-factor authentication is and how you can enable (or disable) it on any of your accounts to ensure your information is protected.

What is two-factor authentication?

To understand what two-factor authentication is, let's start with an analogy.

Imagine living in a dangerous neighborhood with only one lock on your door. Alternatively, your neighbor on the street has an upper lock and a lower lock, and a separate key is required for each lock. To break into his apartment, you have to break into two locks, not just one.

Who is safer?

Ultimately, two-factor authentication is your neighbor's top and bottom lock – but to your online accounts. By combining two protection methods, the risk of being hacked is greatly reduced.

Two-factor authentication uses two methods to ensure that you are the right user. It combines something you know (i.e. a password) with something you have (i.e. a cellphone) or something you are (i.e. face recognition).

For example, to access my online school account, I need to open the Duo Mobile app on my phone and enter my school account password. While a hacker can potentially guess my password, it will be harder for them to hack into my phone, too.

Gmail two-factor authentication

  1. Go to the landing page for Gmail's two-factor authentication.
  2. Click the Get Started button.
  3. Enter your phone number and choose whether you want to receive texts or calls. Or choose Security Key or Google Prompt if you don't want to use your phone.
  4. When you have entered your phone number, click Next. You will then receive a code on your phone. Enter the code and click Next.
  5. Select Activate to activate two-factor authentication for your Gmail account.

Apple two-factor authentication

  1. Go to System Preferences then iCloud.
  2. Select Account Details, select Security, and click Enable Two-Factor Authentication.
  3. To install two-factor authentication for your Apple ID on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, (your name), and Password and Security.
  4. Click Enable Two-Factor Authentication.

Facebook two-factor authentication

  1. Go to your Facebook Settings and then to Security and Login.
  2. Next to Use two-factor authentication, click Edit, and then select Get started.
  3. Choose whether to receive a text message or use a third-party authentication app. Then select Next.
  4. Enter the code that you received on your phone when you selected this option and select Next
  5. If this was done successfully, you will receive a message that two-factor authentication is activated.

How to turn off two-factor authentication

It's relatively easy to turn off two-factor authentication for one of your accounts.

For example, on Facebook, just go to Settings, then Security and Sign In. Find “Use Two-Factor Authentication,” click Edit, then switch to “Off”.

How to turn off two-factor authentication

Alternatively, you might want to go to http://myaccount.google.com in Gmail. Then select "Security". The “Sign in to Google” section displays “Two-step verification”. Click on this section.

Two-step verification to keep your accounts more secure Next, choose Turn Off to turn off two-step verification for your Gmail account.

Example of a two-step confirmation

It's important to note that Apple has removed the option to turn off two-factor authentication for Apple IDs created in iOS 10.3 or macOS 10.12.4 and later.

However, you have a period of two weeks during which you can still deactivate the function. Just open your iCloud email account and find the registration confirmation email. Then click the link to return to your previous security settings.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for completeness.

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