Gmail - How to enable two factor authentication

/ 2FA, gmail, security

Ah, Google. The giant, slowly but quite surely taking over our lives. I don’t know how many of you that use Gmail, Googles e-mail service, but I do (in addition to domain specific non-Google-services that I host myself). Google also has Two Factor Authentication possibilities, and I would suggest you enable them. Now. This is how you go about doing that.

First, go to your account settings. Remember, this will enable Two Factor Authentication for all your Google related services, where you use your Google login. This is not limited to Gmail.

Google account settings

You can see the highlighted area of interest here, named “Sign-in & Security”.
Once in there you find this highlighted area for 2-Step Verification:

Google 2-step verification

Click the little arrow on the right to go to the settings.

Google 2-step verification options

Here you can turn it on, and you can see I’ve had it on since 30th of June 2011, as well as you can add various options for how you’d like to use 2-step verification. You can see from my screenshot that I use Google Authenticator, which shouldn’t be a massive surprise if you’ve seen the previous articles on it, as well as adding phone numbers etc.

When you add Google Authenticator the “normal” procedure happens, where it basically tells you that you need to download the app (which I hope you have by now) and then presents a QR-code that you need to photograph from within the Google Authenticator app to add all Google services to your app.

Google Prompt

You can also add the Google app to your smartphone. When you then login on anything Google related a pop-up will…umm…pop-up on your phone, and you basically need to click “yes” to proceed with the login. You might actually prefer this to Google Authenticator, as it is quite smooth in the process. I have both.

Google settings for adding Google Prompt and Security Key

As you can see you can also add a “Security Key”. Just for fun, for the sake of this article I tried to add it too, but I got a message saying I have to pick one of either the Google Prompt or the Security Key. I can’t have both, so I aborted.

Google error message if you try to add security key when you already have google prompt

Have a look through the other options too. Print out the backup codes if you have a safe place to store them. The most important thing is that you indeed to enable Two Factor Authentication one way or the other. As soon as you do that you have massively increased the security of your account, and the risk of being hacked has severely been lowered.

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