Help:Two-factor authentication

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Help pages Two-factor authentication help
This page explains two-factor authentication on Wikimedia Foundation wikis. For documentation of the extension that adds this functionality, see mw:Wikimedia Security Team/Two-factor Authentication for CentralAuth wikis.

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.

Accounts affected[edit]

Two-factor authentication on Wikimedia is currently experimental and optional. 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.

Enabling two-factor authentication[edit]

Overview of preferences section to enable two-factor authentication.
  • 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.

Note: You will also be presented with a series of one-time scratch codes. Safely store a copy of these codes, should you lose or have a problem with your TOTP client you will be locked out of your account unless you have access to these codes.

Logging in[edit]

Login screen
  • 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[edit]

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.

API access[edit]

Two-factor authentication is not utilized when using OAuth or bot passwords to log in via the API.

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.

For example, tools like AutoWikiBrowser (AWB) do not yet support two-factor authentication, but can use bot passwords.

Disabling two-factor authentication[edit]

Unenrolling
  • On the disable two-factor authentication page, use your authentication device to generate a code to complete the process.

Scratch codes[edit]

OATH example scratch codes

When enrolling in two-factor authentication, you will be provided with a list of five one-time scratch codes. 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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

See also[edit]