First things first…what is 2-factor authentication? Well you should be very familiar with typing in your username and password when you log into an account. When you create an account you are asked for a username and password. If someone knows your password, they can login without your knowledge or approval. This is where 2-factor authentication comes into play. It is essentially a secondary password, but this password is not set by you, and changes every 30 seconds. However you must choose to enable it, because it is never turned on by default. Most big technology companies are enabling support for 2-factor authentication, and if you can do it, you should definitely use it.
Well let us take for instance the latest in hacking scandals, the terribly named “Celebgate” (because apparently every scandal must be named after Watergate) is a prime example of hacking/sleuthing that got the passwords for iCloud accounts, and then the hacker logged in and stole the data. Now if iCloud had this security feature (which it now states it is adding) then the hacker would have to access the account owners personal device to get access to reset the password and steal the data. The attack would have been prevented in this case. Adding 2-factor authentication protects you, and is really only a minor hassle these days, especially if you have a smartphone.
Well first thing first is you must enable it on your account. These settings are always under a security setting in your account. The placement varies by the company, but it shouldn’t be hard to find. If you can’t find it, simply ask the company how to do it. Google, and Dropbox are both companies that support it, and the setup is very simple. Once you start the process you will have the option to get the codes sent via text, or by using an app on your smartphone. A great app to use is Google Authenticator. You will find links below to install it on your device. Using this app, you can either tap “scan a barcode” or enter the code manually. The website that you are setting up the authentication will present you with a weird looking barcode called a QR code. This is by far the easiest method as it adds the account almost instantly. Your phone will now start showing you the 6 digit code and give you a time frame for when it will expire. Enter the code you see on your phone into the computer, and you are done. The next time you log into that website/account you will be asked to use that code unless you have previously marked the computers as trusted. This means you can tell the world your password (although you obviously shouldn’t do this) and you will still be ok.