Multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it much harder for a hacker to access your online stuff, and also the most common type of customer MFA is two-factor authentication (2FA). A very common kind of 2FA is your debit card. One variable is the card itself, which contains magnetic identifying info (these days, a processor ), and a PIN that you provide when you stick the thing in an ATM machine. It’s easy and fairly good at keeping others from your ATM-accessible cash. 2FA is important for your internet accounts, such as email and your iCloud accounts.
While I admit it can be a bit of a pain to need to do something extra to enter your account, it is much less of a pain than having one’s identity stolen, losing access to your email, or replying to your friends who wonder why you’ve said such mad things about them (unless, of course, you actually said those crazy things!) .
Here is how 2FA or two-step authentication works for a couple different online account types. (Note, these services change things up from time to time, so it is better to keep abreast of such changes.)
Setting up Google 2-Step affirmation
First you log in with user name and password (we’ll get to picking smart passwords Part 3) to your Gmail account. There should be an avatar in a circle close to the upper-left hand corner of the window. Perhaps it’s even a photo of you. Click on it and you will see”My Account.” (Incidentally, this changes every few years) On the new window that opens , click on”Sign-in & safety.” Time to put in your username and password again. Enter a phone number and click on if you want to be given a text or a phone call. Then you magically get a text or phone call with a 6-digit verification code. Type it in and pick the choice to turn on 2-step verification. It’s that easy. Okay, it has several steps, but not that hard.
It might be that you prefer to collect your Gmail with another program, like Outlook, as opposed to using a browser to go to the Gmail page for your email. If so, it may be that once you’ve turned on two-step confirmation, your Outlook (or other program ) keeps telling you that you have the wrong password, even though you know darn well it is right. This has happened to me. You probably will need to have Google give you a particular program password that Google will create for you. You will need to visit the App passwords page, which at the time of this writing is here.
Select the program you want it for (if Outlook, then you would select”Mail”), then the device you’re using (Google magically presents a list of those devices you use with their solutions ). Then select “Generate.” It will show you a 16-digit amount in a yellow bar that you use as your new password for that app (Outlook, eg) on that device (do not enter the spaces). You can save that password in your app and you may need that number again in the future.
Yahoo! is comparable: sign into your account, go to the account safety page, click on”two-step confirmation,” and toggle the button to turn it on. Select an option to get a text or a phone call for confirmation. Enter the code which comes to you via text or phone call. Now, you can create an app password, much like the Google procedure above for your various programs like Outlook or Apple (iOS) Mail.
Now, let’s set up 2FA on your iCloud account. First, you have to get a passcode set in your iPhone or iPad.
Click on the Settings app. Did I mention that this will change as Apple keeps us on our toes by changing everything up once we have gotten comfortable with the previous version? In the most recent previous version, you’d have clicked on Preferences, then on iCloud, then your name, then Password & Security.
Be prepared to answer some safety questions – that we’ll be discussing in a future article – and then enter the phone number where you want to get the code for 2FA, and as previously, pick whether you want a phone call or a text.
For a Mac, open System Preferences, and select iCloud, and then”Account Details.” You might need to login using your Apple credentials. As above, answer your security questions whether it asks, enter the telephone number where you would like to get calls or texts for confirmation. Once again, a magical robot immediately sends you the code and you must enter that in the field that awaits your answer.
Once it is turned on, you will get a message asking for approval if an unknown device or place signs onto your account. Notice that on a Mac, that notification can sometimes be on a window that’s hidden behind another, so look for that in case you discover you’re having troubles with getting the approval request.
Speaking of troubles, it looks like a lot of work to have two-factor authentication, but once it is set up, it’s not too much of a pain and will add considerable security to your accounts, in addition to considerable barriers to potential hackers.