In a recent article, I walked through how to set up two-step verification (2SV) on your Google account. You will now receive verification codes via email, phone call, or SMS messaging every time you try to log in to your Google account with your username and password.
It’s important to note, however, that there are potential drawbacks to those methods of verifying your account.
Depending on your 2SV code delivery preferences, Google will not be able to send you a code if you do not have internet access or mobile service. These limitations could present a problem in certain situations. For instance, if your mobile service experiences a temporary outage, you won’t be able to receive codes via SMS.
Similarly, if a storm knocks out internet access and you do not have your verified non-Google email account set up on your mobile device, you won’t be able to receive verification codes via a message sent to that email.
Fortunately, there are applications such as Google Authenticator that will send you 2SV codes even in the event that mobile service and Internet access are unavailable. I will therefore walk through the steps on how you can install Google Authenticator to receive 2SV codes for your Google account.
(NOTE: I will be using an Android device for this guide, but the guidance for setup on iOS and Blackberry devices is similar).
1. Open up the Google Play Store app on your device. (If you have an iPad or iPhone, use the App Store; if you have a BlackBerry, visit “m.google.com/authenticator.”)
2. Search for “Google Authenticator.”
3. Click the “Install” button on the Google Authenticator app page. The app then requests permission to access accounts and profile data located on your device. Click the “Accept” button to install Google Authenticator onto your device.
4. Visit the 2-Step Verification settings page for your Google account on a web browser.
If you are not already logged in, Google will prompt you to sign in and will send you a 2SV code either to your phone or to your email. Enter in your credentials and the verification code.
If you are already logged in, Google will redirect you to a log-in page where it will ask you to resubmit your password. This is an added security measure for when a user attempts to access their Google account. Enter in your password and click the “Confirm” button.
5. Under the “Verification codes” tab on the 2-Step Verification page, you will see that the primary way through which you currently receive codes is set to either your phone or to your email.
Below that option, you will see the Google Authenticator icon and some text explaining that you can instead receive 2SV codes via the Google Authenticator app.
Located next to that text is a “Switch to app” button. Click on that button.
6. A dialog box will pop up asking you to select on which type of device you have installed the Google Authenticator app. Please select one of the three radio buttons (Android, iPhone, or Blackberry) and click “Continue.”
7. Another dialog box will open on Google’s 2-Step Verification page. Follow the instructions on that page to continue the set-up process of the Google Authenticator app, as I will detail below.
8. Open the Google Authenticator app on your mobile device and tap the “Begin Setup” button.
9. The Google Authenticator app will ask you to add an account. You have the option of choosing to do so either via scanning a barcode or by entering in a provided key. (iOS devices offer the same types of options, while Blackberry phones only offer key-based setups.) I choose the the barcode option, so I tap the “Scan a barcode” option.
10. Using a barcode scanner such as ZXing Team’s “Barcode Scanner” installed on your device, place your mobile device so that the barcode on your computer screen falls into the scanning area of the barcode scanner app. Hold the app there for a few seconds for it to pick up the barcode.
Once the scanner has read the barcode, a new screen will pop up in your Google Authenticator app announcing that you’ve successfully set up the app.
As you can see, the screen also provides you with a code that you need to enter into the Set up Google Authenticator app screen on your computer’s web browser. Enter that code into the provided text field in the dialog box and click the “Verify and Save” button.
A message will pop up announcing that you have successfully set up the Google Authenticator app. Click the “Ok” button.
Congratulations! You have now set the Google Authenticator app as your primary means of Google 2SV verification. This allows you to set up SMS, email, or call as a backup means of receiving codes.
From now on, whenever you need to log into your Google account, you will be prompted for a code. Simply go to the Google Authenticator app and enter the code provided by the app into the web browser’s text field. Those codes are time-sensitive, so the codes must be submitted before time runs out.
Stay safe, and stay tuned for more security “How to” articles!
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- How to protect your Amazon account with two-step verification (2SV)
- How to better protect your Google account with two-step Verification (2SV)
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- How to protect your Office 365 users with multi-factor authentication
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- How to protect your Apple ID account against hackers
- How to better protect your Google account with two-step verification and Google Authenticator
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- How to better protect your Instagram account with two-step verification (2SV)
- Instagram finally supports third-party 2FA apps for greater account security