What you should know about two-factor authentication

  • March 24, 2021

When it comes to protecting your online data, you’re no slouch. You set strong passwords, keep your security software updated, and avoid using public Wi-Fi connections for sensitive information. These are all smart ways to keep your personally identifiable information safe.

There’s another strategy you’re likely already using, but may not know it by name: two-factor authentication.

What is two-factor authentication?

If you’re thinking that sounds like a mouthful, you’re right – so let’s break it down. In the world of security, authentication means confirming it’s actually you logging into your accounts. A username and password are the most common way. But what if someone gets your password? Well, that’s where two-factor authentication comes in. Simply put, it means you use a second way to prove you’re really you before you access your online accounts.

This practice is in use by many online retailers and financial institutions, so you’ve likely encountered it before. Think of times when you’ve entered your username and password and then were asked to enter a special one-time code that was just delivered to you. That’s two-factor authentication.

The Bank of Missouri has offered this additional security for years, but it was a separate service customers needed to enroll in and was not built right into the mobile and online banking experience. This changed March 30, as part of an upgrade to online banking on the web and the mobile app. Since two-factor authentication is part of the new experience, now is a great time to learn more about this important security feature.

There’s more than one way to complete two-factor authentication.

After you enter your username and password, a passcode is sent to you. The methods available to receive the code will vary from company to company. Oftentimes, you can decide how you want to receive the code and can change the method each time.

With The Bank of Missouri mobile and online banking, you can receive the code by text message, an automated call, or an app called Authy.

Passcodes are for one-time use and expire within a few minutes. Unless someone else has access to the device that receives the passcode, they won’t be able to see the code. And without that code, they won’t be able to access your account even if they’ve tried to log in with your username and password.

Two-factor authentication is necessary even if you use complex passwords.

Even when you choose complex passwords, you’re not guaranteed to be safe from criminals. They may pose as a legitimate company to trick people into giving up their sensitive information. Also viruses, known as malware, on computers can capture data.

This is why two-factor authentication is an important security step. In fact, it’s required in the new Bank of Missouri experience. You have the option to choose to be remembered on trusted devices. For example, if you’re on your home computer using the same browser you always do, you may be able to skip using two-factor authentication on future log ins. However, if you’re on a new or public device or reset your cookies, then you would use two-factor authentication again.

It’s important to protect your phone, too.

Two-factor authentication is often tied to your mobile device, whether you receive a text, automated call or use a dedicated app for your passcode. That means it’s important to protect your phone as well.

Make it difficult for someone else to get your phone and the data on it. Protect your phone like you would cash. Don’t leaving it lying around for others to easily pick up.

Even if you’re careful, your phone could end up in the wrong hands. Setting a passcode for your phone is an important security step. Many phones allow fingerprint and facial recognition for faster log in.

Two-factor authentication should be combined with other security measures to keep your online banking account safe.

You can protect your online banking account with two-factor authentication. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make other efforts to protect your account. A combination of safety practices can keep your information safe.

When using your online banking account, remember:

  • Never share your user ID or password with anyone. The Bank of Missouri will never ask you for this information.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who calls you asking for this information or anyone who requires this information to offer you money or a loan.
  • Use the latest version of your internet browser.

Log off when you’re finished with your banking. If you’re using a public computer, don’t walk away while you’re logged in. Always clear the browser’s cache and close the browser window when finished.
Learn other ways to prevent cybercriminals from accessing your account by visiting our Security Center page.

No single security measure is 100% safe. But having two-factor authentication in your safety toolkit makes you less vulnerable to criminals and their ongoing attempts to separate you from your money. Learn more about the Bank of Missouri’s mobile and online banking experience >>

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