The digital age has well and truly arrived, isn’t it? Almost everything is being done online these days - from booking train tickets and movie tickets, to watching movies and listening songs, to shopping online, to accessing your bank account and transferring funds, to stock trading, to reading news, to playing games, to even promoting business products and services, to making friends as well as social networking, and so on.
While carrying out any of these online activities, what we leave behind are certain traces, known as our “digital footprints”. Every time we log on to the internet, either from our desktop PC, or laptop, or tablet, or even our smartphone, and perform any activity digitally, we leave a digital trail or footprint.
And given the rise in the number of hacking attempts and virus attacks on users of the internet, there is a clear threat of someone intruding into your private space, and sometimes may even perform activities from your accounts (email or Facebook or bank account or similar accounts) causing harm to your reputation or any financial loss. Such threats make it apparent for you to safeguard your digital footprint.
There are many common ways of protecting your digital footprint such as ensuring your personal details are kept private and not revealed on the internet, updating your privacy settings on public platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive, Dropbox, not sharing your email id randomly on every other site or blog, etc. In this article, our focus will be to understand how two-factor authentication methods used by several apps and sites for secure browsing and access, can prove useful to you.
With two-factor authentication, you need not rely just on your password to ensure secure access to your various online accounts. Despite maintaining an user id and password for your first step of authenticated access, this method involves an additional step where a one-time password or verification code is sent to your registered mobile phone. This ensures that even though someone manages to crack / hack your password, they would still not be able to get unauthorized access to your online account, as the one-time password will be shared only with you (on your mobile phone).
Some services even replace the second authentication step of SMS code, with a DID (Direct Inward Dialing), i.e. receiving a call on your registered phone. Let us go through some of the top tips to manage and protect your digital footprint with two-factor authentication:
Verifying Log-ins from a New / Unsual Machine for Social Networking Accounts
If someone manages to guess your password to your Facebook account correctly, then, he / she can get access to some of your highly private data or any confidential information. To avoid such a scenario from impacting your accounts, you need to activate the two-factor authentication option offered by popular social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. to detect any logins from a new machine.
For such sites, if you or someone else logs into your account from a new machine, then, they send a verification code to your phone via text message (SMS). Thus, only if you are the one accessing your account from another machine, will such sites allow the login to happen successfully.
Securing Your Password Manager
If you are using popular password managers like LastPass to store / remember passwords for many of your online accounts, then, it is important that you safeguard this app by enabling the two-factor authentication option for using it (especially from a new computing device).
Safeguarding Access to Your Emails
For one of the most popular email service, Gmail, you can use Google Authenticator app to generate random code for enabling the two-factor authentication for secure access, especially when you login from a new device.
Being Careful with Online Banking
To save time by not visiting the banks personally, many of us use the online banking feature provided by most banks. However, while accessing our bank accounts online, we need to check if the bank does make use of two-factor authentication for key transactions / activities like login, funds transfer, credit card payment, utility bills payment, loan application, and so on.
Ensure Secure Payments
Whether you are shopping from an eCommerce website, or making in-app purchases from any mobile app, make sure that the two-factor authentication feature is available at the time of making a payment. No payments should be done if certain app or site does not provide this feature. Also, if this feature is not available while using your netbanking account for payment, try using any credit card or debit card that offers this multi-factor authentication service.
Most of the above discussed tips are pretty basic. Still, many people forget to implement them while using any online service. You may not have experienced any security breach till date, but, when it happens, the consequences can be terrifying. However, with two-factor authentication, you need not worry about your digital footprints – they are in safe hands. Hope the above information about protection of your digital footprint through two factor authentication proves useful to you.
- Sandeep Ganguly, CEO, U2opia Mobile...