Beef up your online security with two One of the basic steps every journalist should take to protect their online accounts from hackers is to use two step verification.
With everyone recommending it, journalist Kate Hairsine decided it was time to two step her way across the internet. She found it easy enough to set up but some aspects slightly annoying. Though in comparison to having your oakley sunglasses sale online identity stolen, all your emails deleted and scurrilous or erroneous Tweets sent in your name, the inconvenience is minor. Two factor authentication seems to be the new hot thing in the digital security world. With numerous high profile social media accounts being hacked in the past year, including the Twitter accounts of theBBC, AP and Barack Obama, it no wonder many online service providers are scrambling to make their logins more secure. (Note: the service has many names two step authentication, two factor verification, two step login, second sign in verification I use them interchangeably). What is two factor verification? It when you asked to provide extra information in addition to your user name and password when you log into an account. This extra information might be a PIN number sent to your mobile phone or a security code sent to an alternative email. The idea is to combine something you know, like a password, with something you have, like a phone. In theory, the extra layer of security makes it more difficult for hackers who have stolen your password to log into your accounts because they don have access to this extra verification method. Many services already provide two step authentication and the list seems to grow longer by the day: Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple, Microsoft, Evernote and WordPress all offer the service (as do many others). With everyone from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Global Investigative Journalism Network recommending two step oakly frames authentication, I decided it was time I took it for a whirl. I started off with Google. After logging into my account, I went to the section and opened authentication. Google asked me which phone number I wanted the authentication code sent to, and if this should be an sms or voice call. After I made my choice, they sent me a six digit verification code that I had to enter to confirm my phone worked with the system. not the one I was currently oakley blue sunglasses logging in from). I could also provide them with a second telephone number as a back up, which I did as my mobile was stolen recently so I thought it was a good idea. Google also prompted me to print off 10 verification codes that I can carry with me if I lose my phone or if I somewhere without mobile reception. I know a lot of people who have a password list in their desk drawer, and I wondered if giving people a paper version was actually increasing the security risk. Enabling two step verification for Google and using it to log into my Google account is easy enough. But there are some things that have to be fiddled with and can raise the general annoyance level. It turns out many apps and devices are incompatible with two factor verification. Google Calendar on Android phones, Mail on iPhone, Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird and Picasa are just a few of them. You can solve the issue by getting Google to generate a special, one off password for each app which involves logging back into Google / Security and going to the section Application Specific Passwords. When you on deadline, having to log in to generate passwords is annoying. On the flip side, you only have to enter them once if you get your browser to remember the password for you. Like many people, I also use a second email address. And there it was the same story. It was easy enough to opt in to two factor verification but I had to generate another load of app specific passwords on my phone and laptop. I then made my way to Facebook and Dropbox and registered. They were a breeze but again for Faceook, I printed out emergency codes to use if I loose my phone creating even more pieces of paper to keep safe from prying eyes and burglars. Dropbox gave me just one emergency code that I could use to deactive two step verification if I needed to. If you using two factor verification, you need to make sure you have a back up plan if you work in an area that has limited mobile coverage or regular power outages that make it difficult to charge your phone. For those journalists who work under repressive regimes, walking around with a set of printed verification codes for your online accounts is simply asking for trouble. A solution here is to use a password manager to store them. Many people are also concerned about giving organizations like Microsoft or Facebook even more information about themselves, such as one or even two phone numbers. In a recent survey by the market research organization YouGov, just over 10 percent of people in the UK and the US said they would be willing to share their number with online application providers (read more here). Then there is still the niggling aspect of incompatibility. Using the special one time passwords for the incompatible apps is fine when you get your browser to them so you don have to enter them again later. But many journalists and activists are advised to regularly clean their browser of data, which I do. And when oakley sport I do that, I have to generate and enter these pesky passwords all over again. While the hassle might make you say it, think of the possible consequences.
In 2012, Wired journalist Matt Honan fell victim to a vicious hacking attack. He lost access to all of his accounts, including iCloud, and the hacker ended up wiping his computer and phone completely. Among the data Honan permanently lost was every photo of his daughter he ever taken.
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