Recently, Google announced on their blog that they have developed an advanced security features for Google Accounts, called “2-step verification”, which provides more security than just using a password alone, as “2-step verification” helps to verify that the person trying to log into a Google Account is the account’s actual owner.
The reason that this new authentication method provides more security is because it requires two independent factors for users to access their accounts, which are your password, as well as a code that you can obtain from your phone.
According to Google, over the next few days, users will see a new “Using 2-step verification” link on the Account Settings page of their Google Account. Clicking that link will bring users to a setup wizard, which will guide them through the process of enabling “2-step verification”. This includes setting up a back up telephone number, as well as creating back up codes, just in case a user were to lose access to their primary phone.
After completing the setup wizard and enabling “2-step verification”, users will see an extra page when logging into their Google Account, which prompts them to enter a code and after the user enters their password, they can choose to either receive a phone call or text message with the code.
Alternatively, users can use an application for iPhone, Android, and and BlackBerry phones, in order to generate the code themselves. After the user has entered their password and the code that they received, they will be able to access their account.
This new method of verification is more secure because would-be hackers would have to know someone’s password, as well as have their phone in order to log into a Google Account.
However, users have the choice of choosing a “Remember verification for this computer for 30 days” option, so that they do not need to enter in a code as often, which will cut down on the time it takes to access an account, should a user do so multiple times a day.
This new feature was actually made available to Google Apps users a few months ago, but is now being offered to all Google Account users so that they can better secure their accounts. However, this feature is optional, so users who do not wish to use “2-step verification” don’t have to.
For more information about Google’s new “2-step verification”, you should check out this post from Google’s official blog, as well as this article from Google’s Help Center.