“Security is not a product, but a process”
I wrote about the devastation that can be wrought if your online passwords are hacked in a recent post called Does Your Password Protocol Still Suck? In the post, I shared this scenario:
A cybercriminal hacks your Facebook account and discovers the common user name and simple password you use to make it easy to remember for the many websites you have to manage:
Once he learns that it’s the same user name and password for your email accounts, he parlays this information into access to all your financial accounts. Now he starts the looting. First he steals money from your investment accounts. Then he hits your credits cards, savings accounts, and bank accounts. Next he targets your health insurance. BottomLineInc reports: “If a cybercriminal gets hold of your health insurance account information, he/she could sell a replica of your insurance ID card to someone in need of medical services. Bills for the uncovered portion of these medical treatments would then be sent to you.”
Google’s 2-Step Verification system strikes at the root cause of this type of financial disaster by protecting your email accounts from hackers.
So, how does 2-Step Verification work? It adds another layer of security to your Username and Password by using your smart phone to insert a digital code that’s unique to your phone and is time sensitive. With this extra layer of security, even if someone hacks your Username and Password, they can’t get in to your email account without your smart phone.
After watching Steve Dotto’s 13-minute video, I was convinced of two things: Firstly, I needed 2-Step Verification to protect my online information and accounts. Secondly, it was easy enough for me to set up on my own. So I jumped right in using Steve’s easy-to-follow instructions. I hope that by outlining these below, I can demonstrate how easy this is, and encourage you to consider doing the same.
Easy To Set Up
It only took about 15 minutes for me to completely download, install, and start using Google’s 2-Step Verification.
First I opened https://myaccount.google.com and selected Sign-in & Security.
Next I scrolled down and selected 2-Step Verification and clicked on the Get Started button. Then I answered two questions:
What phone number do you want to use?
How do you want to get codes? Text message or phone call?
Once I answered these, I clicked on Try It and it automatically tested the system by texting me a six-digit security code.
Once the test had worked, it asked if I wanted to turn 2-Step Verification on. I answered “yes” and my extra layer of cyber security was all set up. Simple. Fast. Secure. I also set my wife’s smart phone number as a Backup Phone and printed out Backup Codes I can use should my phone be lost or temporarily inoperable. I keep these in my wallet so they’re always with me.
So, as you can see, in a matter of minutes I had added another layer of protection to all my accounts that are associated with Google: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Youtube.
One Step Further
I decided to take my online security one step further and installed Google Authenticator. So now, when I log in to my Google accounts with my lap top computer or tablet or any other device, after entering my Username and Password, I simply open Google Authenticator on my smart phone and then enter a six-digit code onto the device I am using. The code is completely unique to each device I use and is continuously recycled every thirty seconds. These simple instructions walked me through each step in a matter of minutes.
Any cybercriminal trying to hack my email account now would have to discover my Username (not so hard), my complex Password (harder), and have my smart phone in his or her possession (I’d certainly know if this happened).
I am feeling a whole lot more secure today.
What About You?
Google’s 2-Step Verification and Authenticator are free, simple to set up, and easy to use. So, as you can imagine, I was shocked to find out how few people are using it. A 2015 report by Duo Labs estimates that only 6.5% of Gmailers use Two-Step Verification, even though it significantly enhances the security of their Gmail account, and thereby all their other online accounts. Don’t wait for a personal devastation to move you to action. Instead, use this post as inspiration to take action now. Add extra protection for your online information and accounts with Two-Step Verification and the Authenticator today!
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