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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

GMail can be key to your digital life

Matt Honan (Wired) has this heart wrenching story of his digital life being erased. The door to this tragedy was his gmail account.

You have heard this story from many channels (twitter, facebook, email forwards etc). So I won't repeat it.

But I do recommend enabling two factor authentication on your gmail account.  It is additional inconvenience that is necessary to safeguard your gmail account and potentially your intertwined digital life.

If you have a smartphone such as iphone or android, do not forget to review the section on Google Authenticator.

Perform the following steps:
1) Log into your gmail account.
2) Go to settings via
3) Now start the two step process by giving a phone number (such as mobile).
4) Get the code via sms or voice.  Activate your account.
5) Two step authentication is enabled for your gmail account.  You may want to set "trust the computer" you are using.

Now for each additional device such as iphone or android or ipad you use to get email addresses, you can generate application specific passwords.

This is one time setup for each device.  Hopefully, you should change this quarterly.

Google Authenticator (Smartphone Users)

Instead of using a call from Google each time you login from an unknown location or device, you can use the "Google Authenticator" mobile app available in the iphone app store and Android Market.

1) Download "Google Authenticator" from your app store.
2) Log into gmail account.
4) Start the Authenticator App.
5) Press the + button.  Then press the "Scan the barcode" button.
6) Scan the barcode on the computer using your phone.
7) Once the barcode is scanned, you will get a code displayed on the app.
8) Enter the code into the computer screen in the text box.
9) Click Verify.

1 comment:

Travis Spencer said...

I've used this on my Google account for at least a year or so. The other day, I told a friend he should enable 2FA on his Google account. He said it was too inconvenient. I must have looked at him funny because he added that the SMS one-time codes sometimes took 5 - 10 minutes to arrive. I told him I always used the Google Authentication app on my phone, so not took no time at all. That seemed workable he thought, so I would suggest getting that setup.