What Is Two-Factor Authentication? And How Does It Help Secure Your Business?

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Online security is more important than ever these days, as more businesses rely on cloud-based services for everything from point-of-sale to email, banking and accounting.

Strong passwords are important here. (If you have something obvious like “password 1234,” it’s time to change it.) But it’s also a smart idea to enable two-factor authentication on your accounts, which adds a layer of security on top of your password to help prevent unauthorized activity.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA or multi-factor authentication) requires you to confirm ownership of two separate variables — your password and something else (usually a unique code) — to complete sensitive actions on your account.

Typically you receive a one-time code via email or text message (SMS) as an added verification step. You may have used an authenticator app (like Google Authenticator) that generates 2FA codes on your mobile phone.

Because the codes are different for every single request, two-factor authentication makes it a lot more difficult to hack your accounts (as it’s likely that only you have access to your email or mobile device).

Why is two-factor authentication good for my business?

At Square, two-factor authentication is required for your most sensitive account changes. For example, when you link a new bank account or reset your password, you are first prompted to log in with your username and password and then required to verify your identity with a one-time code sent to via SMS or with a code from an authenticator app to complete the action. This level of personalized authentication helps to secure your most valuable business details and information.

How do you enable two-factor authentication?

You can opt to enable two-factor authentication in the settings or security sections of most online services (like Gmail or Apple). In addition to the two pieces of information needed to make sensitive changes to your account, Square’s Point of Sale system also allows you to enroll in 2-step verification.

Once this feature is enabled, each time you log in to your Square Dashboard you’re prompted to enter your credentials (username and password) as well as a unique verification code sent via SMS.

How to set up 2-step verification for your Square account:
  1. Sign in to your Square Dashboard and go to Account & Settings.
  2. In Personal Information, click the Activate 2-Step Verification button.
  3. Choose whether or not you want to require employees to use 2-step verification, and click Next Step.
  4. Choose your 2-step verification method: SMS or Authentication App
    • SMS: Add your primary mobile phone number and select Next Step. We’ll send you a verification code via text. Enter the code in the prompted field. Click Verify to complete.
    • App: Scan the barcode with your authentication app and click Next Step. Enter the verification code from your app in the prompted field. Click Verify to complete.
  5. If you don’t want to enter a verification code every time you access your Dashboard, check Remember this device for 30 days in the Enter Verification Code prompt the next time you sign in.

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