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Two-factor authentication is not an option anymore — it’s a vital tool for online security

I experimented with two-factor authentication last year. It drove me bonkers. I couldn’t turn it off fast enough.

Then I, like many, read this week of Wired magazine writer Mat Honan’s recent nightmare, dealing with a cascade of compromised accounts from Amazon to iCloud to Gmail, all in a successful play for his desirable three-character Twitter handle. (I flashed to the many requests I’ve had for @nerdvana over the years — drool all you want, suckers, it’s mine! MINE!)

And suddenly I was detangling clouds and committing even-more-complicated-than-before passwords to finger-memory, and I couldn’t get two-factor authentication enabled again fast enough. (If you still don’t know, two-factor authentication means that once you’ve entered your password, you receive a text message or consult an official smartphone app that provides an additional code you must enter into your computer or other device — every time you sign on from a different device. I know, right!?)

Google. Facebook. Inconvenience be damned: This is my life, and I won’t have it ruined if there is anything I can do to prevent it. And prevent it I can, as can you.

I won’t spew the same common-sense tips that bloggers far more knowledgeable about security practices than I have been sharing. Just do it.

I once thought double-layered sign-ins were too much trouble when I’m always logging onto a computer of some kind, somewhere. But exactly the opposite — it’s like safe sex, only with more finger work.

Abstinence? Please. I have work to do.

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