Hacking your Google, Facebook and other accounts is remarkably easy. Not because the security protocols of these services are weak, but because how we behave – using easy passwords that we can remember. A little bit of social engineering and a brute-force program, a focused and smart hacker can own your online life just like that.
The good thing is, you don’t need to be a “techfreak” to take preventive measures. Here’s a very simple thing that you can do to prevent that. Fortunately, all major services like Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Evernote offer two-factor authentication options. You can set up your own device as trusted and if your account is logged in from any other devices, then you’ll need to enter a security code sent to you by the service. So even if someone figures out your password, they still won’t be able to get in to your account without that code.
Now, there are generally three ways to set up the two-factor authentication –
- A call,
- A SMS (both to your chosen cell phone number)
- An authenticator app.
Call and SMS are not particularly safe because that largely depends on the security options of your carrier. If they do not have a strict verification process in place, it will be easy to have your calls and SMS diverted to another recipient or they can just be intercepted midair, before the code even reaches your phone.
An authenticator app is the most secure of them. It’ll work even if you don’t have data connection on your smartphone.
For Facebook, you can use the authenticator built in the Facebook for Android and iOS app. But Google and Microsoft both have their own authenticator apps that can be set up for multiple services. For example, you can use the Google Authenticator app to secure your Google accounts, Facebook account, Dropbox account and Evernote account.
When you’re done setting up two-step verification on your account and connecting it to the Google Authenticator app, a code generated by the app will be required to log in from another device. Of course, then you’ll have to be extra careful not to lose your phone and the trusted PC at the same time after the setup. Some services, like Evernote and Facebook will also provide a set of backup security codes which you can print out to log in from other device when all other two-step verification options are unavailable.
So, set this up and continue to be safe online. After all, we take all possible measures to prevent bad people from breaking in to our homes. Why leave only one lock for our digital places?