On Free Pizza, Tamales and 2FA

We all know that if cybersecurity were a scrumptious snack, it would probably be the tamale of IT: On the outside it’s serious and dense with import. It has a tendency to be corny—(corny jokes about 400-lb hackers in hoodies, anyone?). And it’s absolutely spicy and riveting once you get to the heart of the masa—err, matter.

Infosecurity is not, however, pizza. Pizza is just so obvious. Pizza doesn’t hide its secrets, operating by proxy and unknowable methods. I’ll carry this further, at the risk of offending pizza snobs everywhere (yes, yes, I know your Uncle Frankie slaved over the family recipe in Brooklyn for years to get it right).

BUT: You put cheese and toppings on a piece of flatbread and stick it in the oven. That’s it. That’s pizza. By contrast, tamales must be steamed—how quirky is that!—and making them requires a certain amount of occult knowledge.

But despite this strongly held opinion, I have to hand it to Intel and TeleSign, which are giving away free pizza to those who up the security of their online accounts.

The six-week #TurnOn2FA campaign will shell out 40 $15 Pizza Hut gift cards each week to randomly selected consumers who visit www.turnon2fa.com, activate two-factor authentication on any of their accounts, and then post about it on social media using the hashtags #TurnOn2FA and #2FA4PIZZA.

Now THAT’S a carryout special!

This initiative aims to drive home President Obama's 2016 call to move beyond the password by adding an extra layer of security,” the companies said in announcing the scheme, failing to insert a pizza-related pun about extra layers of toppings.

In any event, the time is right: A recent TeleSign study showed that more than half of consumers had accounts compromised in the last year and only 46% of them use 2FA despite it being a free service.

"Security technology usability will grow in importance as consumers continue to expect frictionless methods for safeguarding their online identities be it a fingerprint, a code sent to your phone or another factor,” said Rick Echevarria, vice president of the software and services group and general manager of the platform security division for Intel. “Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers additional protection from today¹s most common security threats.”

So belly up to the chow-bar, pizza fans (and 2FA fans, which should be all of us). For tamales, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for your next trip to On the Border (or somewhere better, if you’re lucky enough to live in the Southwest).

Photo © petrovvladimir

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