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Gentle January

Lock Down Your Accounts with Extra Authentication

Two-factor logins add security beyond your password

Digital illustration of the words “Gentle January” over a field of pixelated flowers; in the right-hand corner there is the number “4” placed on a stack of post-its
Gabriel Hongsdusit

The Gentle January series shares one practical privacy tip a day from a Markup staffer who actually uses the advice in their own life.   

Back in the early days of Twitter, it seemed like high-profile celebrity hacks were constant. Once I became a full-fledged journalist with a Twitter presence, one early piece of advice I got was to lock up my accounts through two-factor authentication—a tool that provides an extra layer of security by logging users in with a special identifier along with the usual password. Many services, including social media companies, have an option that will text users a unique code or that will pair with an authentication app when a person logs in, making it more difficult for hackers to pry into their accounts. Two-factor options are usually available under the security settings for a service. 

Now I use two-factor as often as I can, especially for sensitive accounts like email. Authenticator apps are considered a bit more secure than text message verification, so I tend to use the Google Authenticator app (physical keys are another option). And if you want to lock up your Twitter, which recently changed its name to X and did away with text two-factor for non-paying users, you’ll want to use an app too.

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