When it comes to taking steps to secure your accounts, turning on multi-factor authentication may provide the best protection for how little effort it takes. Most companies, including Google, offer free MFA, but it is usually off by default. We provide steps to turn this function on to better secure your Google account.
What are multi-factors?
Factors refers to the different steps or entry requirements to log into your account. Generally, accounts default to one factor, a password, hopefully a strong one. Adding multiple factors creates additional layers so if someone obtains your password, they cannot log in without completing the second step you set up. One of the most recognizable second factors are text message codes, but there are many others you can use.
Google’s security settings
To start setting up MFA on your Google account, you will of course have to be logged in. If you are already logged in and using an application such as Gmail, you can access your account information by clicking your user icon in the upper right. Then click “manage your Google account”.
From the account screen, the security settings will be in the left column of security options. Click to access.
Scroll down to the section for “signing in to Google”. 2-step verification will be labeled as off. Click this to turn it on and begin setting up MFA.
Adding additional verification factors
On the initial 2-step verification screen, click Get Started.
You will be prompted to re-enter your password for your Google account.
Because you are setting up new login requirements, Google may flag this as unusual activity. If it does they will have ways for you to verify that you are indeed the person on your account. For this demonstration, Google prompted me to send a code to my recovery phone number for me to enter. Coincidentally, this is them using a second verification for me to set up my second verification requirement.
You will be asked to enter a phone number for Google to either text or call to send you a security code. If you prefer, they offer the option to use a security key or a sign in prompt on your smart phone instead. Make your selection and click next.
If using the code method, enter the code you received on your phone and click next. The code may take a minute to arrive, but if it takes too long, verify that your number is correct and press resend. Click back if needed to select a new method.
Google will verify that your code worked and will ask you to confirm that you want to turn on MFA. Click “turn on”.
Additional Factors available
After you’ve enable two-factor authentication, Google will give you more options available for your accounts such as an authenticator app that cycles through codes so you don’t have to wait for a text. Google’s authenticator app can be used for multiple accounts for added convenience.
Now that you have an extra layer of protection for your Google account, you can rest easy knowing that if your password is compromised, it is that much harder to access your account. Look at your other accounts for MFA options and check out our Security Best Practices video series for more helpful ways to combat cyber security threats.
Subscribe to Valiant's Monthly Email Digest
Valiant's monthly email digest is filled with original content written by our staff, tech news, and business insights.