What is Two-Factor Authentication? Why Should You Care?

What is two-factor authentication?  According to Wikipedia:

Two-factor authentication (TFA, T-FA or 2FA) is an approach to authentication which requires the presentation of two or more of the three authentication factors: “something the user knows”, “something the user has”, and “something the user is”.

There are three generally recognized factors for authentication: something you know (such as a password), something you have (such as a hardware token or cell phone), and something you are (such as your fingerprint). Two-factor authentication requires the system to use two of these.

Why should you care?  For extra security, having two or more of the mentioned security factors for authentication helps to make your login more secure.

For email purposes, currently only Google’s Gmail service is the only major webmail provider that offers this option, although Microsoft Hotmail’s forum moderators recently thought differently.  An interesting article by Fahmida Y. Rashid outlines the questions asked of the support forum regarding Microsoft Hotmail’s authentication with some surprising responses.  It only took 3 weeks for an informed response to be posted.

So now you know what two-factor authentication is, shock and awe your friends!

Fake Windows Update Ignored by Outlook’s Email Defenses

There’s a fake Microsoft email message with a nasty file attachment wending it’s way around the internet.  It’s supposedly a Windows update .exe sent as an attachment to a Microsoft email.

Though almost all email programs block .exe attachment files by default, they don’t always send the entire email to the junk mail folder.  Although, having an executable as an attachment should tip the junk filter to the suspicious category and at least send it to the Junk Folder in an abundance of caution.

If you see this email message, DELETE it post haste.  Microsoft would NEVER send an .exe or .msi file through the email system.  Microsoft sends updates through the update process on your PC or MAC.

The current message supposedly comes from “Microsoft Update Center [securityassurance@microsoft.com]” and contains an attachment KB825559.exe – which should NOT be opened under any circumstances.

The complete message and details can be found on the Office Watch website http://news.office-watch.com/?699.

Collecting your POP3 and Webmail Accounts into Outlook – Part 1 – Introduction and Considerations

Did you know that you can collect all of your various webmail, html, and POP3 email accounts into Outlook?  As of the date of this writing, I have over 40 POP3 accounts and a hotmail and msn account feed into my permanent Outlook account, making it easy for me to save attachments in appropriate client folders on my hard drive, keep my external accounts clean, and facilitate archiving (which will be another important topic for a later post).

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