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Use Gmail’s 2-Step Verification for More Security

Email is tremendously convenient for today’s world—a world in which we need to get in touch with one another quickly.  There are, however, some out there who want to sour the Internet experience for the rest of us, attempting to penetrate our computers and personal accounts.  While security measures have been taken to ameliorate existing vulnerabilities, there still exist weaknesses in online security.  Most recently, email has come to the forefront of the online security discussions. Hackers who are able to access their victim’s email can gain access to private information, intimate conversations, and, in the worst case, credentials for other online accounts.

With the risk of an online security breech at an all-time high (arguably), it is important that we have systems in place to protect our information. There are steps that we can take to improve our information security, of course—like using more complex passwords, varying passwords for each account, changing passwords often, and never sharing passwords or writing them down. However, when it comes to email security, Gmail has provided us with an opt-in system to further protect our accounts. They call it 2-Step Verification.

What is 2-Step Verification?

This system adds an extra layer of security to individual Gmail accounts.  2-Step allows users to protect Gmail accounts by requiring two types of login—password and security code.

How to Enable 2-Step Verification

To enable this feature for your own Google account, you’ll want to navigate to your account settings in the upper right hand corner of your Gmail inbox. From here, click the ‘Security’ link in the left navigation. Below ‘Passwords and recovery options,’ you should see your settings for 2-Step Verification.

2step verification

Click the ‘Settings’ button, and you’ll be directed to the 2-Step Verification setup process. Click the ‘Start setup’ button at the right to get started.

gmail security

From here, the process is fairly straightforward. Enter the phone number at which you’d like to receive verification codes, choose whether you’d like to receive text or voice messages, and click ‘Send code’.

set up your phone

Once you’ve received your code, you’ll enter it to verify that everything is in order and customize the settings for the specific device you’re using. Just like that, you’ve setup 2-Step Verification!

How does this work exactly?

Well, when you log in to a personal Gmail account, you will enter username and password as usual.  However, with 2-Step, you will also need your cell phone.  Why?  Because Gmail will send a separate login code via text message to your phone in order to allow you to complete the login process.  What this is intended to do is make it impossible for an outsider to get into your email by requiring that a second 6-digit code, sent only to the cell phone, be entered as well.  So long as the thief has not gotten hold of your cell, they will not be able to log in to the Gmail account even if they know your email password.

Gmail Account Security

Image Credit: google.com

So will I have to login in two ways every time?

Not necessarily.  Gmail will allow users to “trust” their computers, which means the 2-Step system will remember the device in the future.  If you log in to Gmail on your work computer, however, this device will have to be authenticated.  Any time a device is not indicated to be trusted for future use, a new and unique code will be sent to your phone to log in during individual sessions.

Remember, too, that while using this system, you will be unable to log in to your Gmail account with any other device, i.e. cell phone or tablet.  If you wish to view your Gmail account on your phone or other device, a different code known as an application-specific password will be given as a one-time means of identifying the device.

OK…So what’s the difference between all of the codes, then?

Ah, yes.  It can get a bit confusing.  First, when logging in via computer, use your Gmail password the same way you always did.  You needn’t change it unless desired.  The code that will be sent to your cell phone, once again, is at least 6-digit numbers (at times up to 8).  As indicated above, enter it where specified upon filling in the regular password.  If you are using a device other than a computer, a 16-letter code will be sent to your phone so that you may log in on it or another device.  The 16-letter code replaces your password entirely and replaces it with a device-specific password.

Why is this so important?

Do you want your email account to be taken over?  No?  This alone makes the verification system important.  Additionally, personal information saved in your emails or account itself may aid hackers in stealing even more from you.  Order confirmation messages and the like often contain some personal info, various websites maybe have sent a password reminder for that account, etc.  You don’t want this to fall into the wrong hands!

Remember that setting this system up is optional.  Those wishing to have maximum protection on their Gmail accounts should consider putting this into place.  As with many Gmail features, the 2-Step Verification system may be accessed and activated via one’s personal account settings.  Does this sound like a good plan?  I think so.

Author Bio:- Tracey Bauer is a Pittsburgh writer with a budding interest in technology,PST management and Gmail productivity.

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