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Does two-factor authentication protect me from hackers?

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Today's question is, what is
two-factor authentication and why should I care about it? Does it really help protect
me from hackers? The answer is yes. Two-factor authentication
absolutely does give you much better protection
against hackers. So let's talk about what it is
and why you should turn it on. If you are working for
a company, they might provide it for you. But Google will provide you with
two-factor authentication on your Gmail account
if you want it. Here's why you might want
to think about it.

A normal password is
something you know. But if somebody guesses that,
they could log in from Russia, or China, or Bulgaria,
or wherever. They could get access
to documents. They could get access to
the stuff that you have stored in Gmail. And that's pretty scary. Two-factor authentication is
something you know, like your password, and something you
have. So in this case, you might, for example, configure
your smartphone to be able to return a little pin. And that might be a six-digit
number that you just type in. And then, OK, not only do you
know the password, but you also have this time-limited
pin. And so Google knows
to trust you. Now there's a lot of people who
are like, well this sounds like a lot of hassle.

Or they're pointing out the
various corner cases. So let me walk you through it. I have had at least two
relatives have their Gmail account get hacked because they didn't pick a good password. And so people are logging in
from other countries, and they're trying to do
various things. If you will turn on two-factor
authentication, then you don't need to worry about that. Because whoever the hacker is,
he doesn't have your phone. So he's not able to guess what
your one-time pin is. And so you're much
more protected. Now let's walk through a lot
of the concerns that people have. Some people are like, well
I don't want to type in a pin every time I login. That's great. Because you can set a little
checkbox that says remember me for 30 days.

And so only once a month do you
have to generate the pin and type it in. Some people will say, well, but
what if I'm in a foreign country, or what if I don't
have cell phone service? That's OK. This application runs
on your smartphone. But it doesn't have to have
cellphone service. It's based on time, so that over
a limited window, this pin will work. And then another pin
will start working. And so you don't have to have
cell phone service. It's OK if you're in
another country.

Some people are like, well
what if I lose my phone? That's OK too. There are little one-time codes
that you can print out on paper and put
in your wallet. Then people say, well what if
I forget about my phone number, and I switch to
a different phone, or something like that? That's OK. You can designate a backup phone
number, where people can either send a text or they can
actually automatically call and read off the
number for you.

Some people are like, oh,
well, what if this is proprietary, and it's not
based on standards? That's OK. It's open source, and it's
based on open standards. So I pretty much guarantee
almost any given reservation that you have about whether you
would be able to use this as your solution, they've pretty
much taken care of all those weird corner cases. So I have it on my phone. I would not trust my Gmail
account without having two-factor authentication. It just makes your system
that much more secure. It's very little extra work. There's all kinds of ways
to make it even faster. And I would just really
recommend that everybody get it. If everybody would turn on
two-factor authentication, we'd have much less of a problem
with accounts getting hijacked, people's sites
getting hacked.

Because your Gmail can be
the source of a lot of information. And so if your Gmail gets
hacked, then people might get access to your domain
name, or your other services, your bank. So you really should have a
lot of protection on your Gmail account. And the Gmail guys do a lot of
different things to say, OK, here's a login from a different
country, or there are ways to see the most recent
account activity.

But the really big one is this
two-factor authentication. So it's a little, tiny
bit more hassle. But if you're willing to turn it
on, then you get a lot more protection. I just feel like I'd be sort of
naked out on the internet if I didn't have this
sort of protection. And I really think everybody
should turn it on, including you. So please consider it. I think that we have a video
down in the metadata, where we can link to, that gives you
a lot more information about how it works. There are all kinds of ways
where you can set up application-specific
passwords.

So if you really want to do IMAP
or POP and have access to your email without having to
re-authenticate every 30 days, there are ways to do it. But if you just spend a little
bit of time learning about it and how it works, I guarantee
you'll be much more protected. So the next time somebody gets
hacked, it won't be you.