I read an article recently that stated most Americans don’t have a clue what https:// or 2FA means. It dawned on me that the UK could the same. So here is a brief explanation:
Https:// is a protocol which means that the information sent backwards and forwards to a website is encrypted. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t mean the site is trustworthy or safe. It just means your information can’t be eavesdropped or manipulated as it crosses the internet.
It is important to remember that fake sites can easily make their website https:// so don’t assume it is legitimate just because of the little green padlock.
2FA is short for Two Factor Authentication. This system means that to access a website for example you need to use your password and another bit of proof. This can take the form of a code, or a biometric (e.g. fingerprint). The code could be in a text message sent to your mobile (or house phone) or generated in an authentication app on your smart phone. You can’t access the website with the password alone, which makes it a more secure way to protect your account.
I have 2FA set up for things like Internet banking and Paypal for example. This way no one can use my Paypal account unless they have access to both my password and my phone. Every so often in the news you hear about passwords being breached and shared on the Dark Web, so the chances are that some of yours (especially if you use the same one for multiple sites) will be on that list. You can check by going to https://haveibeenpwned.com/
It is worth mentioned however that security specialists have now recognised that 2FA can no longer be guaranteed secure. This is because crooks can fraudulently swap your SIM card so allowing them to receive the codes sent via SMS.
MFA, Multi Factor Authentication, is even more secure because it uses more than 2 factors to identify it’s really you. It is a combination of something you know (password), something you have (key fob code) and something that is unique to you physically (retina, fingerprint, voice). It is more secure but less practical that 2FA so the transition to MFA has been slower than 2FA.