Protect Your Online Data with Two-Factor Authentication

The internet is not as safe of a place as we wish, and passwords are far from impossible to crack. If you want to be safe, you have to take every precaution and extra step you can in order to make sure no one get access to your online accounts and services. These days, the majority of online services use two-factor authentication as an extra precaution to protect your online accounts.

Let’s take a look at how you can enable 2-factor authentication on some of the most important services you use: Gmail and Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, and LastPass.

What is 2-Step Verification?

2-Step Verification adds an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. Other than your password, you can either add your phone number or install an app such as Google Authenticator on your mobile device that generates a set of codes which are required to gain access to your accounts. Even if someone gains access to your password, he/she will not be able to access your account until and unless they have the verification code.

It’s a bit of extra trouble, but is a worthwhile protection to keep your data secured. Here’s what you need to get started.

Gmail

Gmail offers users to set up two factor authentication on their Google account. You can either receive the code on your mobile phone via SMS message or you can install the Google Authenticator app if you own any iOS, Android or Blackberry device.

To set up 2 Step Verification on your Gmail account, go to your account settings from Gmail or any other Google app.

Gmail account settings

Go to Security from the sidebar and click on Settings under 2-Step verification.

Gmail security settings page

If you are enabling it for the first time, it will ask you to provide your telephone number on which Google will send you a verification code. Just enter the verification code and confirm. It will then redirect you to the 2-Step Verification settings page. From there, you can also set up your Google Authenticator account as well.

Personally, I prefer using Google Authenticator as it refreshes codes after every 60 seconds and there are chances that you’ll receive the code late due to network outages. To set up Google Authenticator, select your device and scan the QR code that appears on the screen.

Google Authenticator Setup for Gmail

And you are done. In case you lose your device, you can always get access using a verification code via SMS from your phone, or you can print out emergency backup passcodes to get access. Oh, and there’s one more thing: if you use 3rd party apps with Gmail, you’ll need to make special passcodes for each of those apps, so you’ll only need to login once. It’s simple, and works great.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most popular ways to store and sync your files, and it now supports 2 step verification using Google Authenticator app or via SMS message. To set up 2 Step Verification on your Dropbox account, login to your account and go to Settings.

Dropbox Settings Page

After entering your password for confirmation, it will ask you whether you want to receive the verification code via SMS or generate it using Google Authenticator App.

Ways to receive verification codes in Dropbox

As I said before, If you use Android device or iPhone, it’s better to use Google Authenticator App. A QR code will appear on your screen; just scan the code using the app and it will automatically appear on your mobile screen.

Dropbox QR Code

Google Authenticator QR Code for Dropbox

After setting up Google Authenticator, it will also ask you to specify a backup phone number in case you lose your phone. From now on, every time you login to your Dropbox account, it will ask you to enter the verification code until and unless you authorize your computer.

Dropbox security verification

Facebook

Almost everyone online has a Facebook account, whether you like it or not. It has a ton of data about you, especially if you use it to share regularly, and isn’t something you’d likely care to have compromised. In order to protect your account from unauthorized use, you can enable login approvals for it as well. After setting up login approval, it will either send you an SMS on your mobile phone or generate a verification code using the Facebook app which is available for both iOS and Android devices.

First of all, go to your Account Settings on Facebook and open the security tab. Click on the Edit button right next to Login Approvals and enable two step verification.

Facebook security settings page

After you check the login approval box, it will open a new box and will ask you to name the place you are logged in from if you want to add it to the trusted browser list.

Login Approval for Facebook

After that, select the method by which you want to receive the verification code. If you chose to use Facebook Code Generator on your device, simply open the Facebook app on your phone, open the menu, tap on Code Generator and activate it. After activating, it will give you the verification codes which are renewed after every 30 seconds.

Facebook Code Generator for iOS 

Lastpass

Lastpass is one service I can’t work without, as it’s really difficult to remember all the passwords — and passwords that are easy to remember are even less secure. If you use Lastpass, I would definitely recommend you enable two step verification; otherwise, all someone needs to do is get into your LastPass, and they have access to all your online accounts.

Here’s what you need to do. If you are using Lastpass for Google Chrome, click on Lastpass extension icon and go to Preferences.

Lastpass preferences

Go to your Account Settings and open the Google Authenticator tab. From there,click on the option that displays the QR Code and scan it using the Google Authenticator app on your Smartphone. After authenticating, Lastpass will appear in your Google Authenticator. Now, enable the Google Authenticator Authentication option and you will be asked to enter the code that appears in Google Authenticator app.

Enabling Google Authenticator for Lastpass

Now, whenever you will log in to Lastpass, it will ask you to enter the verification code.

Lastpass security verification page

If you are one of those people who don’t have a Google Authenticator supported device, you can use Grid Authentication method with Lastpass. This feature will show you a grid which you must print in order to access your Lastpass account. To Enable it, just go account settings and open the Security tab. From there, click on Print Your Grid link and print multiple copies of it. After printing the grid, just check the Grid Authentication and update settings.

Lastpass Grid Verification Settings

The Grid Authentication method can be a hassle as you have to carry the printed paper with you all the time. If you forget it anywhere, it can be a problem for you and you will not be able to access your account. But, it’s still an extra way to stay safe, and it’s nice to see they offer another option.

Conclusion

These are some of the most commonly used services that the majority of internet uses on a daily basis. If you are a webmaster who works with WordPress, there is a Google Authenticator plugin for WordPress as well, and many other services are starting to add 2-factor authentication. It’s a reasonable precaution to take to keep your data safe.


  • xxdesmus

    Perhaps one day even Twitter will figure out how to offer this amazing modern technology…

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  • moar

    i hope more people support the open source protocol google supports in their autentication app,

    i want all my authentication in one app, not having to use a facebook app, battle.net app, google auth app …

  • Sam

    Didn’t realise there was 2-step verification for Dropbox, thanks for the tip

  • http://jonathangraft.com Jonathan Graft

    I had Facebook’s 2-step authentication enabled, but now I just enabled it on Google! Very helpful, thank you for posting this!

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