Before you do any Black Friday shopping online — or any other e-spending this holiday season — consider checking the security settings on your online accounts.
A cybersecurity feature known as two-step or two-factor verification, as well as two-step or two-factor authentication, adds an extra layer of security to shoppers. This feature protects sensitive information such as credit card numbers that is exchanged as part of the online shopping process.
When two-step verification is enabled, you — and potential cybercrooks — will need more than your password to access specified online accounts.
After you enter a password when logging into an account, you are asked for unique information, such as a one-time string of characters that’s sent to you via text message or a special app.
A few major retailers and online payment methods — such as mobile wallets — make two-step verification available. These include:
- Amazon (which refers to the feature as “two-step verification“)
- eBay (“a security key“)
- Etsy (“two-factor authentication“)
- Google Wallet (“two-step verification“)
- PayPal (“a security key” — the same one you would use for eBay, which owns PayPal)
- Venmo (“multifactor authentication“)
Two-step verification is not perfect. The method of having unique info sent to your phone by text message, for example, has been criticized in recent months because potential e-evildoers can get around the added layer of security by stealing or hacking your phone.
Still, having added security beats not having it. As PCWorld recently put it:
Despite these problems, you should stick with 2-step verification on any service that offers it. Your home is less secure than Fort Knox, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your door unlocked. The harder you make it for crooks to break into your private space, the more likely they’ll give up and try someone less vigilant.
To learn about other types of websites for which two-step verification is available, check out the extensive list compiled by software development engineer Josh Davis.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself online this holiday shopping season and beyond, check out “7 Ways to Guard Your Wallet — and Identity — When Shopping Online.”
Do you take extra precautions when shopping online? Let us know below or over on our Facebook page.