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This page explains two-factor authentication on Wikimedia Foundation wikis. You may also read documentation of the extension that adds this functionality.
Wikimedia's implementation of two-factor authentication (2FA) is a way to strengthen the security of your account. If you enable two-factor authentication, you will be asked for a one-time six-digit authentication code every time in addition to your password. This code is provided by an app on your smartphone or other authentication device. In order to log in, you must know your password and have your authentication device available to generate the code.
Two-factor authentication on Wikimedia is currently experimental and optional (with some exceptions). Enrollment requires
(oathauth-enable) access, currently in production testing with administrators (and users with admin-like permissions like interface editors), bureaucrats, checkusers, oversighters, stewards, edit filter managers and the OATH-testers global group.
Mandatory use user groups
Enabling two-factor authentication
(oathauth-enable)access (by default, available to administrators, bureaucrats, suppressors, check users and other privileged user groups)
- Have or install a Time-based One-time Password Algorithm (TOTP) client. For most users, this will be a phone or tablet application. Commonly recommended apps include:
- Open-source: FreeOTP (Android, iOS), andOTP (Android), Authenticator (iOS), Authenticator.cc (Chrome, Firefox & Edge), Passman (NextCloud), KeePassXC (Linux, macOS, Windows)
- Closed-source: Authy (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows), Google Authenticator (Android iOS)
- other clients compared at English Wikipedia
- You can also use a desktop client such as the OATH Toolkit (Linux, macOS via Homebrew), or WinAuth (Windows). Keep in mind that if you log in from the computer used to generate TOTP codes, this approach does not protect your account if an attacker gains access to your computer.
- Password managers such as 1Password, LastPass, and KeePass also tend to support/have plugins to support TOTP. This bears the same limitations as the above, but may be worth looking into if you already use one for other things.
- Go to Special:OATH on the project you hold one of the above rights on (this link is also available from your preferences). (For most users, this will not be here on the meta-wiki.)
- Special:OATH presents you with a QR code containing the Two-factor account name and Two-factor secret key. This is needed to pair your client with the server.
- Scan the QR code with, or enter the two-factor account name and key into, your TOTP client.
- Enter the authentication code from your TOTP client into the OATH screen to complete the enrollment.
- Provide your username and password, and submit as before.
- Enter in a one-time six digit authentication code as provided by the TOTP client. Note: This code changes about every thirty seconds.
Keep me logged in
If you choose this option when logging in, you normally will not need to enter an authentication code when using the same browser. Actions such as logging out or clearing the browser cache will require a code on your next login.
Some security sensitive actions, such as changing your email address or password, may require you to re-authenticate with a code even if you chose the keep-me-logged-in option.
You may use OAuth or bot passwords to restrict API sessions to specific actions, while still using two-factor authentication to protect your full access. Please note, OAuth and bot passwords can not be used to log on interactively to the website, only to the API.
Disabling two-factor authentication
- Go to Special:OATH or preferences. If you are no longer in groups that are permitted to enroll, you can still disable via Special:OATH.
- On the disable two-factor authentication page, use your authentication device to generate a code to complete the process.
When enrolling in two-factor authentication, you will be provided with a list of ten one-time scratch codes. Please print those codes and store them in a safe place, as you may need to use them in case you lose access to your 2FA device. It is important to note that each of these codes is single use; it may only ever be used once and then expires. After using one, you can scratch it through with a pen or otherwise mark that the code has been used. To generate a new set of codes, you will need to disable and re-enable two-factor authentication.
Disabling two-factor authentication without an authentication device
This may require two scratch codes: one to log in, and another to disable. Should you ever need to use any of your scratch codes, it is advisable to disable and re-enable to generate a fresh set of codes as soon as possible.
Recovering from a lost or broken authentication device
If you have an existing 2FA device which has simply stopped generating the correct codes, check that its clock is reasonably accurate. Time-based OTP on our wikis has been known to fail with 2 minutes difference.
You will need access to the scratch codes that you were provided when enrolling in order to un-enroll from two-factor authentication. It will require you to use up to two scratch codes to accomplish this:
- You need to be logged in. If you are not already logged in, this will require use of a scratch code.
- Visit Special:OATH and use a different scratch code to disable two-factor authentication.
If you don't have enough scratch codes, you may contact Trust and Safety at cawikimedia.org to request removal of 2FA from your account (please send an email using your registered email address of your wiki account). You should also create a task on Phabricator if you still have access to it. Please note, 2FA removal by staff is not always granted.
Web Authentication Method
- English Wikipedia article and Wikidata item about the concept of multi-factor authentication
- Known bugs and requested improvements of Wikimedia's two-factor authentication are tracked in Phabricator.
- OATHAuth is the MediaWiki extension used for this functionality
- Wikimedia Security Team/Two-factor Authentication for CentralAuth wikis
- Help:Two-factor authentication in the MediaWiki.org