Adding two factor authentication to your contacts

TL;DR Always use two factor authentication and add the phone numbers to your contacts.

Two factor authentication (2FA), or 2 Step Verification, has become ubiqudious, and for good reason. It adds a critical layer of security in the place where we are most vulnerable: internet accounts. Dispite countless warnings and horor stories, people still use amazingly simple passwords, including “password”. By requiring something that we have (e.g. cell phone) in addition to something that we know (password), two factor autnentication reduces our reliance on a single mode of authentication.

While it might seem like an unnecessary hassel, typing your email address into Have I Been Pwned might change your mind. It shows the minimum number of data breaches that have involved your email address. Breaches expose information, including passwords, and if the passwords have been used for other accounts (and those accounts don’t use 2FA), you become a low hanging fruit for hackers.

While there are apps (e.g. Google Authenticator and 1Password) that will manage most two factor authentication codes for you, most people use text messages to their cell phones. After a few logins, your Messages app quickly becomes clogged with 2FA codes. I usually delete them right away to reduct the clutter, but I have started adding the numbers to my contacts to help them blend into my Messages list. Now instead of 2FA messages coming from an ugly (or not so ugly in Google’s case) number, they come from Google, or Mint, or Digital Ocean.

This not only makes it look nicer, but it adds clarity when you receive multiple codes in a short period of time. Here are a few that I have added recently:

Digital Ocean - 646-291-2215
Google - 20000
NameCheap - 78156 - 443-251-3247

Adding the numbers to your contacts certainly doesn’t improve security, but it does improve readability and neatness. In my book those are just as important ;)

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