Don’t Laugh at Social Security’s New Plan to Guard Personal Data

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Two-factor authentication or two-step authentication is slowly gaining traction in many online systems. Nowhere is such a boost more needed than with the Social Security Administration (SSA) which guards your Social Security number (SSN) and your wage data.

Second Time’s the Charm?

It’s not the first time that SSA has attempted to add layers of security to its online operations. Last summer, SSA announced that it would require a second factor—a code texted to your cell phone—to verify your identity before allowing access. That original approach pushed out individuals without text-enabled phones and those unwilling to use the system. They were unable to access their SSA accounts online. Some users objected vocally, so SSA went back to the drawing board.

Effective June 10, SSA will allow its 30 million users to create a multifactor login procedure utilizing either text or email to receive that one-time code. Every online user has an email account; that’s required.

Easy Process

The two-step process is simple. Sign in with your user name and password. Then choose to receive a single use code via text or email. Regardless of the device you use, this should be a snap.

“The my Social Security portal will automatically change its size based on the size of the screen and kind of device you are using—such as a tablet, smart phone, or computer. No matter what type of device you choose, you will have full, easy-to-use access to your personal my Social Security account,” the agency said.

Early Setup Recommended

Even if you’re decades away from retirement age, data security experts suggest setting up your personal account at ssa.gov now. You definitely don’t want hackers claiming it first. Just know that SSA requires all users to alter their passwords twice a year.

Add noreply@ssa.gov to your address book to make sure that one-time code doesn’t get lost in your spam folder.

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