A Brief Rundown of Services that Offer Two-Factor Authentication (and why you should use it).

Passwords are weak, and, wherever possible, you shouldn't rely solely on the as a means of protection. As more of our world moves online, that becomes increasingly true. Companies like Google are working on eliminating passwords, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, the best way to protect yourself is to enable two-step authentication when you can.

If you’re not familiar, two-step authentication is simple: as the name suggests, you’re simply adding another step to signing into the service in question. The first step is the same: enter your password. Once you do, that service will send a text to your phone with a verification code. Enter the code into your browser, and you’re signed in. The benefit is obvious: instead of requiring only your password, would-be hackers would need your password and access to your phone.

Enabling two-step authentication, then, is a no-brainer, so I thought I’d run down a (very incomplete) list of services that offer the extra layer of security (click on the links to go to the respective service’s two-step setup page):

In addition to the texting method, some of these services also offer authentication via dedicated authentication apps (each service should specify whether or not that's the case on its security page, linked above).

These aren’t the only services that offer two-step authentication (for a very thorough list, see this), but it should cover the majority of users’ basic needs.

Protip: if you must use passwords, forget characters and capitals: just string three unrelated words together for better security.