Stay Safe with Google’s Two Step Verification
One of the handy things about Google’s apps is that they are “platform agnostic.” It doesn’t matter if you use Windows or a Mac, iOS or Android. Google Maps, GMail, Google Docs, Google Drive etc will work in similar ways on any computer.
This is a boon to those who use devices with different operating systems (Android smartphone and Windows desktop, for example) as well as to those who collaborate with people who may use entirely different devices.
Google’s mantra of “One Password, All of Google” adds greatly to the convenience.
If you have to edit a spreadsheet with someone using Windows 8, but you only have your iPhone handy – no problem. Open GMail, find the sheet in your Google Drive, and email it to your Window using friend.
This degree of interoperability and convenience, combined with 15 GB of free cloud storage, encourages users to store lots – lots and lots! – of information in Google apps.
But with convenience comes vulnerability. A stolen GMail password gives a hacker the keys to your kingdom: years worth of archived email, gigabytes of documents, your calendar, your contacts, even your YouTube account are all laid open.
Fortunately, Google’s Two Step Verification is as easy to set up and use as other Google products – and it will do a very good job of keeping your information safe.
ENABLING TWO STEP VERIFICATION
Begin by going to https://www.google.com/landing/2step/
If you aren’t already signed in, sign in to your Google account.
About half way down the page, you’ll see a link to 2 Step Verification. Click Set Up.
Remember, two step verification works with
* Something you know: your password – and –
* Something you have: your phone
To start, enter your phone number. You can then choose to receive your verification code via an SMS (text) message sent to your smartphone or through the Google Authenticator app.
In most other circumstances, SMS is simple and direct, without the need for an additional app, and it is the method many people choose.
(Google Authenticator is a downloadable iPhone or Android app that generates one-use verification codes. It is useful if you frequently find yourself outside the reach of cell service. If you later decide the method you selected isn’t right for you, just revisit the page and pick the other method. You can switch back and forth freely.)
Click Send Code and you’ll receive a 6 digit verification code via text message on your smartphone. Enter the code and click Verify.
Once verified, you’ll probably want to check the Trust This Computer check box. (Of course, never do this on a public computer.) This will allow you to use any Google app or service from this computer without having to enter a verification code again. Like other 2 Step Verification settings, this can be changed later.
Click Next, then click Confirm.
Congratulations! You have enabled 2 Step Verification for your Google account,. Your private information, email account, and documents will be much safer.
Next: Using Google 2 Step Verification Part 2: Backup Phones, Backup Codes, Google Authenticator