Two factor authentication (or 2FA) refers to having two ways to verify yourself before logging in to your Coinbase account. The first factor is "something you know" (your password), and the second factor in this case is "something you have" (your phone or computer). This is an excellent security measure which would require a hacker to gain possession of your 2FA codes AND your username/password to be able to compromise your account.
To provide 2FA services, Coinbase has partnered with Authy, a 2FA platform provider. When a phone number is verified on Coinbase, it is automatically enrolled with Authy. That means that whenever a 2FA code is required, Authy will ask you to provide a one-time code generated by your device and will validate this code.
For flexibility, Authy provides several different methods of receiving 2FA codes. You can use one of the Authy apps for a mobile device or computer (the most secure option) or by default you will receive codes via SMS text messages.
We have a few recommendations to ensure you are not locked out of your account while using 2FA:
- If you are planning on traveling we highly recommend using the Authy app for your smart phone or computer (https://www.authy.com/users). This will ensure that you can access your account even if you cannot receive messages. Here is a great walk through to get you going.
- If you plan on changing numbers for any reason, you will want to perform a phone change with Authy as soon as possible as this process takes 72 hours to complete. You can start this process here: https://www.authy.com/phones/change.
- Ensure you have a backup Google Authenticator setup in the event you lose access to one of the other devices. Do not rely on this method, if you lose the secret keys there will be no way to recover them. Authy is tied to your phone number so you will always be able to recover your account.
Note: If you have a secondary phone that has Authy setup prior to you adding it to Coinbase, the codes will not be accepted for most account actions. It's recommended you use a single number when using Authy to eliminate any future issues. If you do experience issues as described above it may be necessary to contact Authy to resolve this.
We take security very seriously here at Coinbase and two factor authentication is one of the best defenses you can use to protect your account. If you have any questions about two factor or have trouble we are here to help.