It hasn’t been a very good year for companies and “secure” data. A slew of high-profile companies like Sony, Dropbox, and LinkedIn were hacked, their security bypassed, and user data copied.
The recent case of Mat Horan is a good example of how a connected person can display their online presence without realizing how far it reaches.
Accounts with Facebook Connect, connected email accounts, and the passwords that you use (or don’t use intelligently) can unfortunately get hacked, so you need to take steps to protect yourself.
Google’s 2-step authentication is a great way to secure your Google account and any other accounts associated with it. It requires you to enter a verification key when accessing your account on different devices and is used with the Google Authenticator app.
Here’s how to set up 2-step authentication.
Download Google Authenticator
Before you start 2-step authentication on your browser, download Google Authenticator and a barcode scanner app. This will simplify mobile setup a lot, because you won’t be able to access the Google Play Store once you enable 2-step verification.
Access your Google account settings
You can access your account settings from Gmail or Google+. After you access general settings, click on Security, then click on Edit for 2-step verification. Re-enter your password.
Enter your phone number to receive your code.
Enter the verification code.
Decide if the computer you’re using is a trusted computer.
Once you finish setup, your Google accounts on mobile devices will be signed out and you’ll have to set up 2-step verification for mobile.
Set up Google Authenticator
After 2-step verification is set up through your browser, go back to the 2-step verification menu. In the Mobile application section, click on your device type.
You will receive a setup prompt that uses Google Authenticator. Hopefully you already installed a QR scanner. Scan the code and enter the code that is subsequently generated by the app into your browser.
When the code is confirmed, you use Google Authenticator to create time-specific codes that are used to access your Google account on different devices. This is necessary if you log into multiple devices with your Google account.
If you don’t have access to the app, you can also use printable backup codes. These are one-time use codes that you will need to access your account, and it’s recommended that you print them out and store them somewhere safe and accessible.
With 2-step authentication, your Google account will be more secure, although you should always back up data in multiple places either online or locally. Also use separate passwords for important accounts, as well as multiple accounts.
Remember too that you will need to use Google Authenticator for your codes to access your account from unrecognized devices. It’ll be worth the extra effort though to know your accounts are that much more secure.