Google 2FA: What is it, and how can I set it up?

Ever had someone use your password to log in into your account? This could soon be a thing of the past.

Google is set to introduce two-factor authentication for the majority of its users by the end of this year. This means that users will need to provide additional security information when entering their password in order to log in to their account.

While Google initially suggested plans to enable two-factor authentication back in May, the new initiative will see an additional 150 million users enrolled by the end of 2021. It also follows several other platforms making the new measure mandatory, including Facebook and Microsoft.

So what is two-factor authentication, and how can I set it up?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) means adding an extra layer of security alongside your password to your account. This could be a one-time code sent via email, or a hardware key that you insert into your computer. This prevents someone from gaining unauthorised access to your account, even if they know your password.

Under Google’s new initiative users who regularly sign into their accounts on their mobile devices, or have recovery information like an alternative phone number, will be among the first to be automatically enrolled. While users will be notified seven days before their sign-in method changes, they’ll also be offered the option to immediately turn on 2FA.

Once enrolled, users signing into their accounts will be asked to enter their password before being sent a code via text, voice call or over the mobile app. They will then have to enter the code to log in, and verify their login attempt by tapping a prompt on their phone.

Once set up, you can choose to opt out of the process on your chosen device and switch to just using a password to sign in. Choosing this option means you’ll only be asked to complete the two-step verification process if someone tries to access your account from another device.

Google has also set up a dedicated backup codes page to help you log in without a one-time verification code. This issues 10 backup codes when you first enroll that can be used to gain access to your account if you lose your smartphone or security key.

How can I set it up?

You can check whether you’re already enrolled on 2FA by heading to Google Security Checkup. If not, you can set it up by following the steps below:

  1. Open your Google Account
  2. Head to the navigation panel and select Security
  3. Select 2-Step-Verification and tap Get started
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the set up.

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