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Two-factor authentication can protect your online accounts

Using two-factor authentication, when you sign into your

Using two-factor authentication, when you sign into your account, after you enter the login information, you'll need to enter a special code before you'll be granted access. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/DAVID CLARK

It seems every few days there's a new story about someone's Ring doorbell getting hacked. There's been scary video footage of kids being watched and spoken to through their Ring cameras.
Ring's due diligence determined these instances weren't the result of hacking of its security system. Rather, it appears these user logins and passwords were stolen in data breaches involving other companies.
It isn't hard to find spreadsheets containing stolen logins and passwords for sale online. People get in trouble when they use the same login names and passwords for multiple websites or services.
You may have spent a lot of time coming up with what you think is the perfect password and you start using it for all your online accounts. Reusing passwords sure makes your life easier, but it also makes it simpler for hackers and people who buy those stolen login lists.
It isn't hard to try those logins on different websites, and that's what was happening to Ring users. Someone stole their correct login information and had complete access to their cameras. Don't blame Ring, which is now owned by Amazon. It offers a more secure solution — called two-factor authentication — and you need to be using it everywhere you can.
Two-factor authentication makes it a little harder for hackers to log into your accounts, even if they have the correct login and password. Here's how it works: When you set up an account with a service like Ring, you'll create a login name and password, but you'll also give them your cellphone number.
When you sign into your account from a new computer, after you enter the login information, the company will then send a text to your phone with a code. You have to enter that code on the site before you'll be granted access. It may very well be possible for a hacker to steal your cellphone, but they'd have to know your login name and password and have the cellphone to gain access to any accounts protected by two-factor authentication.
So take a look at your online accounts — especially any involving privacy or money — to see if two-factor authentication is offered. It will probably be located in the security settings.
If it's offered, turn it on and protect yourself. If accounts or services you use don't offer it, tell them you want it implemented. It is one of the best ways we have to combat hackers.
Oh, and don't use the same password for all your online accounts. There are password managers like Last Pass or 1Password that generate really complex passwords for all your online accounts and help you fill them in when you need to log in. Look into one and give it a try. It might keep you from becoming a hacking news story.


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