How to Set Up Google 2-Step Verification

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When it comes down to it, the only thing between the bad guys and your Google account is a single password – just one string of characters between your sensitive information and their prying eyes. If this makes you a little uneasy, trust us: you’re not alone.

Most of the recent data breaches haven’t come from super-genius hackers, but instead from smart people that know how to guess what a password might be. While creating a strong password is still important, these days you need more than a basic password to keep your data safe.

Enter 2-step verification. With 2-step verification you can bypass the dangers of phishing emails, duplicated passwords, and even viruses that steal your login information. Even if the bad guys get your password, it’s useless to them since you have the second step of verification on you. It’s like a security blanket for your Google account.

Interested? Here’s how it works and how you can easily set it up.

How Google 2-Step Verification Works

Google 2-step verification is pretty simple. All that changes is how you log in to your Google account. Normally you’d just enter your Google username and password to log in. With 2-step verification turned on, you enter your username, then you enter your password, and finally you enter a verification code that’s sent to you via text, voice call, or a mobile app.

Google knows this can be a pain, so you can set a computer to be trusted so you won’t need to enter the code on that machine again. But when you or someone else tries to login from a new machine, you (or they) will need the code. Or, if you’d like, you can keep things extra-safe and require the code every time.

Now let’s set up Google 2-step verification. For this tutorial we’ll be using an iPhone with the Google Authenticator app as well as text messages.

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Setting Up Google 2-Step Verification

To start the setup process, head over to Google’s 2-step verification page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Get Started.

Google 2-Step Verification page with Get Started button

The first step in the process is to tell Google how you want to be sent the authentication code. The easiest way is via text message. Enter your mobile phone number into the box and click Send code to continue.

Assigning phone number to Google 2-Step Verification

You’ll get a text right away to enter into the webpage. Enter the verification code and click Verify.

Trust This Computer option on Google 2-Step Verification

The next step is to tell Google to trust the computer you’re working on, or to ask for the code on it every time. This one is totally your call. Check the box or not, then click Next to continue.

Entering verification code for Google 2-Step Verification

The last step is to confirm that you’re turning on 2-step verification. If you’re happy with the phone number and trust that you’ve set up, click Confirm to finish the setup process.

Now that 2-step verification is set up, there’s one more thing you’ll need to do.

Remember all those apps like your email client, iPhone, and other places that you’re signed in to your Google account? You’re going to need to update all of those so they’re trusted with 2-step verification as well. It’s not hard to do, and we’ll walk through that next.

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Reconnect Apps and Devices

With 2-step verification turned on, you’ll need to reconnect your apps and devices so everything you want to use is included under the 2-step verification umbrella. At this point in the setup process, you should see a screen that prompts you to Reconnect my apps. Click this button to continue.

Reconnect My Apps button on Google 2-Step Verification

You’ll be asked to enter your Google account password. Do this and click Sign in.

Next you’ll be sent to a screen where you can create one-off passwords for each application. Select the service you want to create the password for, then select the device it’s on, and finally click Generate.

For example, here’s how it would look for setting up Mail on my iPhone:

Generating app passwords for Google 2-Step Verification
The great thing about this is that once you set a unique password for each device, you can revoke only that device by simply hitting the Revoke button. So if one app becomes compromised, the others are completely safe.

Generate a password for each device and service you’re using and click Done when you’re all finished. If you need to add new device passwords, head over to Google’s Security page and then next to App Passwords click on Settings.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips to Future-Proof Your Email Address

The App

There’s an easier way to do 2-step verification than getting text messages, and that’s with the Google Authenticator App. Download the app for your Android or iPhone, then head over to the Google Security settings page and next to 2-Stage Verification click on Settings.

Open the Google Authenticator app on your iPhone and tap the + sign.

Next, tap Scan Barcode and head back over to the Settings page on your computer.

Under “Primary way you receive codes,” click on Switch to app and select iPhone (or other device if you have a Blackberry or Android), then click Continue.

Setting up primary way to receive codes for Google 2-Step Verification
Want more help setting up Google Authenticator? Click here to see Google’s help page.

Next, you should see a QR code on your screen. Using your phone, scan the code. You’ll be given a time-based number on your phone that will change every 30 seconds or so. Type this number into the Code window on your computer, then click the Verify and Save button.

Set Up Google Authenticator screen on iPhone

Now all you have to do is open the app to get your code, no text messages required. Best of all, these codes cycle every 30 seconds, so it’s nearly impossible to guess.

Your Google account is now far more secure than it ever was before, and after setup is complete it’s nearly the same for you to log in to.

Wrap-Up

Protecting your data is important. Many people think they’re not at risk of hacking because they have nothing that’s “interesting” for a hacker, but sometimes just causing problems is reason enough.

With access to your account, someone could delete all your emails, contacts, and even pictures. They could even send emails to your friends and family pretending to be you and asking for money. All it takes is one leak and those pictures you don’t want anyone seeing are all over the Internet. Even worse, access to your account gives them the ability to reset passwords for banking, shopping sites, and anything else that goes to your email address. Overall, some pretty scary stuff.

Don’t you feel better now that you’ve set up 2-step verification?

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