Why You Should Setup 2-Factor Authentication On Your Google Account

I while back I wrote about how ex-gizmodo writer Mat Honan had his online persona hijacked and erased by hackers. This all could have been prevented if he had bolstered the security on his Google account before the hackers managed to get in. To do this, he needed 2-Factor Authentication.

What is 2-Factor Authentication?

Well, 2-Factor Authentication (2-FA) is basically a constantly changing secondary password for your Google account. So when you log in you will be asked for your normal password but then you will be asked for a secondary One Time Password (OTP) that is generated either by an app on your phone called Google Authenticator or sent to your phone via text message from Google.

For me the Google Authenticator app is much easier to use and it doesn’t require a phone signal like the text messages do. The 6 digit code on the app cycles once every 30 seconds so basically every 30 seconds the password on your Google account changes. This makes your account almost impossible to hack.

So you might be thinking “I don’t want to have to put in 2 passwords everytime I log on to my Google account” that’s the beauty of this system – you don’t! You can ‘trust’ your computer(s) which means that Google will only ask you for the secondary password on these devices ones every 30 days. However, if you log on to a new computer you will be asked to enter the secondary password – this means that any possible hacker will need to have your email address, password and your phone in order to get into your Google account.

But why do I need 2-FA?

Some of you may be thinking, “I only get Facebook alerts to my Gmail account so it doesn’t really matter is someone hacks my emails”. WRONG! Most of us only have one email account right? So what happens if you forget your password to Facebook or Dropbox? You hit the forgot password link and a reset link gets sent to your gmail account.

This means that if a hacker gets into your Gmail account they can also gain access to any of your online accounts that you have linked to it. This can be catastrophic - if you don’t believe me, ask Mat Honan!

2-FA isn’t just available to Gmail, it’s also available on other online systems where security is paramount. For example, I use 2-FA on my Gmail, Dropbox & LastPass accounts.

So how do I get 2-FA?

If you want to start using 2-FA on your Gmail account it’s very simple to do. I recently went through the process and it took me around 10-15 minutes to setup. If you want to find more information about 2-FA on your Google account then take a look here. For instruction on how to set it all up, this link should help you.

Do you use 2-FA on any accounts? If so, do you find it a help or a hindrance?

Why You Should Setup 2-Factor Authentication On Your Google Account
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