In these days of increasing cyber attacks, even most stronger passwords cannot assure a complete protection to your account. You may have your whole business,personal data and other online accounts linked with your google account. What if someone steal your password? They can use your account with password and username, without you being noticing it.
Why you should be serious about your google account?
- You may have create your Facebook, Paypal and so on online accounts with you Gmail address. If some gets access to your Gmail account, they can reset password of all your online accounts. So putting your google account at risk also mean putting all your online accounts at risk.
- You may receive monthly bank statements and have personal data in the form of photos and videos.
- The hacker may use you account for unethical purposes.
- If you are a blogger or Epreneur, you may have buisiness on google as Blog on Blogspot, Files on Google Drive, Stats on Analytics.
How it works
So what actually is the 2-step verification and how it works. Normally when you sign in to your google account, you are asked to enter your Username and password.
But with 2 step verification enabled you are asked to enter Username, password, and a One-time password, that you received through SMS on your mobile or Google authenticator app (we will discuss this one later). So it is hard for anyone to get into your account, even they have your username and password.
Enable and Setup Google’s 2-step Verification
Steps to Enable 2 step verification
- Login to your Google account and head over to Settings > 2-Step verification. Here you may be asked to re-enter your password.
- Now click on Start setup. You will be redirected to the setup page.
Steps to enable 2-step verification (click to enlarge)
- In the next page, you are requested to provide your mobile number (if you haven’t provided one yet). If you already registered a mobile number you should verify it again. Check your mobile number and click on Send code.
- Now enter the verification code, sent to your mobile number and proceed. Now it asks you to trust this device or not. If it is your device which you use more often, check the option and proceed. Now in this last step click on Confirm to confirm and complete the setup.
That’s all, you have just enabled 2-step verification. Now on every time (unless you trust/register it) you log in to your account, you are asked to provide a verification code along with Username
Reconnecting devices and apps with your Google account
After enabling the 2-step verification, all your devices and apps that are connected to your google account (Like outlook, live writer, Mail on iPhone and I mac ) needs to be reconnected.
To reconnect your device, just provide the password and the one-time password. You can connect the other apps programs like chrome for PC in the similar way.
You cannot reconnect the other apps like Outlook, live writer and most of other apps, with One-time password (OTP) because they don’t have the mechanism to accept OTP’s. So to reconnect these apps Google has a solution called App-Specific Passwords. They are nothing but just a Unique password generated, which you can use as a substitute for your password for only a single app.
Steps to use these passwords and reconnect the apps:
- Login to your account and go to your 2-step verification dashboard.
- Click on App-Specific passwords. Then click on Manage application-specific passwords button. Or simply click this link. And now re-enter your password.
- On the next page select the App and OS from the drop-down list and click on Generate. If your app is not listed, select Other and enter the app name. After you click on generate, a 16-digit password is generated. Note it down now as you cannot view it later and have to generate new one again.
- Now go to the app you want to reconnect and sign in with your Username and this 16-digit password.
- If you want to Revoke access to any app after this reconnection, Go to App Passwords, Go to that app and click on Revoke.
Ways to Receive verification codes and Sign in
1.Receiving Codes through SMS
Usually after enabling 2-step verification, by default you receive codes by SMS to your registered mobile number, which you can use to Sign in. You can also add a backup mobile number so that you can still receive codes if you don’t have access to your primary mobile number.
To add a backup number Go to your 2-step verification dashboard, Click on Add a phone number under Backup options. Enter number and click on Save.
2. Google Authenticator app
The most useful, secure and easy way to generate verification codes is using Google authenticator app. The app is officially available from Google for Android, IOS and Blackberry and available for windows phone from a third party developer. Once you install and setup this app, it can generate new and unique codes, which refresh every single minute. The specialty of this app is it uses TOTP technology which can generate codes independently Without any Internet Connection. So you can use this option if you have trouble with your mobile signal or can’t access your mobile number.
Steps to setup Google authenticator app:
- Download and install the authenticator app from app store.
- Go to your 2-step verification dashboard, click on Switch to app. Select your OS and proceed. Now a popup with a barcode appears. Keep it aside.
- Now open the authenticator app on your device. You can setup using Barcode or using a Secret key.
Click to enlarge
- To setup using Barcode (Only for Android and IOS), you should have a barcode scanner app installed on your device else you will be prompted to download one. Open the app and tap on add account. Now tap on Scan account barcode and scan the QR code displayed on your computer with your device camera.
- To setup manually using Secret key, on setup page on your desktop click on Can’t scan the barcode, a 32-digit alpha-numeric key. Open the app and tap on ‘Setup account / Add account’. Tap on ‘Enter provided key’. Now enter your complete Email address as account name, Enter 32-digit key, select Time-based and click on Add.
- To verify its working properly, enter the verification code, thus generated on your app.
If you doesn’t carry any device with you or don’t want to use above options, this Offline option can be useful. You have to generate these 8-digit numeric codes and take a print of it. 10 codes are generated each time and each code can be used once irrespective of time. Once you used old codes you can generate new one.
To generate Backup codes Go to your 2-step verification dashboard and click on Print/ download under Backup codes.
4.Using a physical USB Security key
A Security key is a physical USB device which makes its more simpler and secure to login. Once you registered a security key with your account, you don’t have to wait for codes. You just have to enter your username, password and plug in your registered security key. To use this option you have to buy a security key, I recommend Yubico security key, as it is cheaper option out there.
To register a security key:
- In your 2-step verification dashboard go to Security keys and click on Add Security key. (Don’t plugin your security yet)
- Now in the next page click on Register and then plug in your security key and confirm by touching on the flashing light on security key (in case of Yubico).
You can view Amit Agarwal’s video demo on using a security key
That’s it, you just registered your security key. You can add multiple security keys to single account and also use single security key with multiple accounts.
Google’s 2-step authentication is truly a boon to people who worried about their account security. Though you have to put little effort in setting it up and using it, it is really worth your effort. I strongly recommend you enable and make use of this valuable security feature, if you are a Blogger, an E-Preneur or even a normal Internet user who don’t want to keep their account at risk.
Over To you…..
I had put a lot of effort in creating this guide and make it complete and comprehensive. But if you find anything missing, Please let me know through contact page or simply by commenting below. If you have doubt or trouble regarding 2-step verification, please post them as comments below.