2FA: What are the first steps? What is Google Authenticator? What services to protect?

While setting up 2FA (2 Factor Authorization or 2-Step Verification) may seem a bit daunting at first, once everything in place you will never look back. The two main reasons you need 2FA protection are: (1) it's easier than you think for someone to steal your password, and (2) bad guys can get into your account causing you to lose access to your account and everything in it.

Learn more: https://www.google.com/landing/2step/

The following steps are a great way to get started on securing all your important accounts (e.g. email, social media, services, apps) with an extra layer of protection. 

Step 1: Install Google Authenticator app on mobile device

An authenticator app is what is needed to provide you with the codes that are involved with the 2 step authentication process. Just a quick review...2 step authentication essentially is a way of securing access to something (e.g. bank ATM machine, email access, etc.) with (1) knowledge (something they know like a PIN or password) and (2) possession (something they have like an ATM card or mobile device). 

With an authenticator app on your mobile device, you will be satisfying the "possession" part of the 2FA deal. Our favorite authenticator app is Google Authenticator which is available in the Android Google Play store and in Apple's App Store for iOS (iPhones & iPads). There are other competitors that you can also use if preferred (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-best-alternatives-google-authenticator/).

However, what we DO NOT recommend is setting up 2FA using SMS text message or Voice call because if you do not have a strong signal from your carrier you could be SOL ("straight outta luck"); whereas, you could always access your authenticator app via wifi in addition to your data connection on your mobile device. 

Setup intructions are here (https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1066447?hl=en&ref_topic=7189195) and below: 

 

Requirements

To use Google Authenticator on your Android device, it must be running Android version 2.1 or later.

Downloading the app

  1. Visit Google Play.
  2. Search for Google Authenticator.
  3. Download and install the application.

Setting up the app

  1. If you haven’t already, complete the SMS/Voice setup and enroll your account in 2-Step Verification using your phone number.
  2. On your computer, go to the 2-Step Verification settings page and click on Android.
  3. On your mobile device, open the Google Authenticator application.
  4. If this is the first time you have used Authenticator, select Begin setup. If you are adding a new account, choose Set up account from the app's menu.
  5. To link your mobile device to your account:
    • Using QR code: Select Scan a barcode. If the Authenticator app cannot locate a barcode scanner app on your mobile device, you might be prompted to download and install one. If you want to install a barcode scanner app so you can complete the setup process, select Install, then go through the installation process. Once the app is installed, reopen Google Authenticator, then point your camera at the QR code on your computer screen.
    • Using secret key: Select Enter provided key, then enter the email address of your Google Account in the "Enter account name" box. Next, enter the secret key on your computer screen in the "Enter your key" box. Make sure you've chosen to make the key Time based, then select Add.
  6. To test that the application is working, enter the verification code on your mobile device into the box on your computer next to Code, then click "Verify."
  7. If your code is correct, you will see a confirmation message. Click "Save" to continue the setup process. If your code is incorrect, try generating a new verification code on your mobile device, then entering it on your computer. If you’re still having trouble, you might want to verify that the time on your device is correct or read about common issues.

Requirements

To use Google Authenticator on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you must have iOS 5.0 or later. In addition, in order to set up the app on your iPhone using a QR code, you must have a 3G model or later.

Downloading the app

  1. Visit the App Store.
  2. Search for Google Authenticator.
  3. Download and install the application.

Setting up the app

  1. If you haven’t already, complete the SMS/Voice setup and enroll your account in 2-Step Verification using your phone number. You can add the Google Authenticator app only after you’ve already enrolled using your phone number.
  2. On your computer, go to the 2-Step Verification settings page and click on iPhone.
  3. On your mobile device, open the Google Authenticator application.
  4. Tap the plus icon.
  5. Tap Time Based.
  6. To link your mobile device to your account:
    • Using Barcode: Tap "Scan Barcode" and then point your camera at the QR code on your computer screen.
    • Using Manual Entry: Tap "Manual Entry" and enter the email address of your Google Account. Then, enter the secret key on your computer screen into the box next to Key and tap "Done."
  7. To test that the application is working, enter the verification code on your mobile device into the box on your computer next to Code, then click "Verify." The clock icon on your mobile device will let you know how much time is left before the verification code expires and a new one is generated.
  8. If your code is correct, you will see a confirmation message. Click "Save" to confirm. If your code is incorrect, try generating a new verification code on your mobile device, then entering it on your computer. If you’re still having trouble, you might want to verify that the time on your device is correct or read about common issues.

 

Step 2: Protect your important accounts services, if not all

Now that you have Google Authenticator installed your mobile device and a way of generating codes, you will now have to go through all your accounts to opt into 2FA and pair those accounts with your authenticator app. We recommend that any account or service that allows 2FA be enabled because chances are some of your accounts share passwords. If Mark Zuckerberg can get hacked, guess what? So can you (http://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-zuckerbergs-twitter-and-pinterest-accounts-hacked-1465251954)! 

Here's a list of some of the accounts and services you should update to 2FA Google

Mores sources and lists:

 

 

 

 

 

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