Google’s two-step authentication helps you restrict access to your accounts. Normally, you login to a website with your username and password. Without two-step authentication, you’re done. Access to your account relies on the strength of your username and password.
What is Two-factor Authentication ?
Two-factor authentication is a simple feature that asks for more than just your password. It requires both “something you know” (like a password) and “something you have” (like your phone). After you enter your password, you’ll get a second code sent to your phone, and only after you enter it will you get into your account. Think of it as entering a PIN number, then getting a retina scan, like you see in every spy movie ever made. It’s a lot more secure than a password (which is very hackable), and keeps unwanted snoopers out of your online accounts.
Google Authenticator app to add two-factor authentication
There are two primary ways to use two-factor authentication – text message or via an authenticator app. Most sites will send you OTPs via text message and that’s a perfectly good method of authentication. However if you go abroad or travel to a place with patchy or no network within your country, then you could be locked out of your account because the SMS will never arrive.
That is why we recommend using authenticator apps such as Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, or Authy or even some password managers such as 1Password. These apps show you OTPs even if the smartphone is in airplane mode.
Google Authenticator is quite easy to use and the following steps will show you how to use it for Gmail. The steps are similar for other authenticator apps too.
- Open Google’s two-factor authentication page.
- Enter your password as and when prompted. You’ll reach the landing page for two-factor authentication. Click Get Started.
- Enter the phone number you want to use for OTP. This is just in case the authenticator app isn’t accessible. Click Next.
- Enter the one-time password sent to your phone. Click Next.
- Click Turn on.
- This enables two-factor authentication via SMS on your Google account. Now scroll down and click Setup under Authenticator app.
- In the pop-up, select the type of phone you have – Android or iPhone.
- Now you’ll see a QR code on screen. You can either scan this or click Can’t scan it to get a code for two-factor authentication. This is where you’ll have to switch to your smartphone.
- Download Google Authenticator on Android or iOS.
- Tap Begin Setup.
- Tap Scan barcode. This will fire up the camera on your smartphone and you can point that at the QR code on the computer screen. Alternatively you can tap Manual entry and enter the code on screen.
- On the Google two-factor authentication page, click Next.
- Enter the code on your authenticator app and click Verify.
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