It’s currently Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and odds are you weren’t aware of that. Google has a self-congratulatory blog post up to highlight all the things it’s doing to make your account safer. One of Google’s initiatives is to get more people using two-factor authentication, or two-step verification (2SV) as Google calls it. After previously expressing its intention to transition all accounts to 2SV, Google says it’s going to start doing that in earnest later this year. That could mean 150 million new accounts will be protected with 2SV.
As Google says, having a second form of authentication for logins dramatically decreases the chance that an attacker could gain access. There are various ways to add two-factor, but most services rely on codes sent via SMS or generated by a paired 2FA app like Google Authenticator or Authy. However, Google has been focusing mostly on the device prompt. When you try to log into Google, it asks you to check your phone for a button. You can verify the login, and that’s it.
Google started adding the device prompts to accounts earlier this year, and new accounts already have 2SV enabled by default. That feature is coming to a lot more accounts in the next few months. By the end of 2021, Google hopes to have enrolled 150 million more people in 2SV. Google will also require about 2 million YouTube creators to turn the feature on.
If you’re a one-phone kind of person (and most are), this change should be easy. Just make sure you’ve got your phone when logging into your account, and all it takes is a button press to make your account more secure. If you have multiple phones, it’s possible the prompt will show up on a different device. This has happened to me on occasion, but I have a code generator backup. Google won’t enable this unless you have something.
Google admits that today’s 2SV options aren’t ideal for everyone. It won’t turn this feature on for accounts that don’t have any backup options. For example, a verified phone number or a code generator. Google will continue working on methods that can move us away from passwords, something that Microsoft is also very interested in doing.
You don’t have to wait for Google, though. If you don’t have 2SV enabled, all it takes is a quick trip into your account settings.
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