Did you ever think about how much data someone could gain if they somehow got access to your Google account?Think about it for a second. If you’re a fan of Google, you probably use Gmail for email, Picasa for pictures, Google+ for social networking, Google Music Beta for your music, Google Docs for your documents, Google Maps, Reader, etc. The list goes on. What would happen if someone had access to your password? They would instantly have access to all your Google data. Google has a simple solution for this problem: 2-step verification.
What is 2-step verification?
2-step verification adds a second layer of security to your Google account by requiring you to input a numeric keycode after entering your password. The numeric keycode is generated for you by using the Google Authenticator app for Android, or is sent to you via SMS. You are also given a set of keycodes that you can print and store in your wallet in case you don’t have access to your phone to generate a code or have an SMS sent to you.
By requiring a numeric code to be entered after signing on with your password, you add an extra layer of security. If someone were to get a hold of your Google password, they still wouldn’t be able to log unless they knew the numeric code.
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What about other Google services
Since 2-step verification only works when signing on to Google services through a web browser, non-browser applications and devices that use your Google account such as Gmail on your phone or Picasa on your computer will not be able to use 2-step verification. Instead, they will be secured in a different way. Instead of using your regular password for accessing these services, you are given a special randomly generated password to use for each service. Most of these non-browser Google services require you to input your password only once.
What do you need to use 2-step verification?
In order to secure your Google account with 2-step verification, you will need a phone that you have access to when you usually sign into your Google accounts. This phone could be a standard phone (landline or mobile) or a smartphone. The Google Authenticator app is available for Android, Blackberry, and iOS, so those smartphones are good to go.
You will also need a backup phone. The backup phone is used if you don’t have access to your primary phone. The backup phone could be a work or home phone (landline or mobile) or a phone of someone that you trust.
How to set up 2-step verification
For complete instructions on how to set up and configure 2-step verification on your Google account and to learn more about it, visit the Getting started with 2-step verification help page from Google Support.