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Use Your Phone’s Gmail App for Two-Factor Authentication

Email is your most important application whether you access it in a web browser or with an app on your smartphone or tablet. If your email gets hacked, it is trivial for a blackhat hacker to go to your online accounts with a bank, stock brokerage, ecommerce site, and reset your passwords

…and then gain control of all your accounts!

But you can easily and quickly protect your email. If you set 2FA up and turn it on, a hacker would have to have both your email password and your smartphone in order to gain control over your email account!  In the case of Gmail, you can set up another layer of protection though: two-factor authentication (2FA…also called 2-step verification). 2FA makes your smartphone an additional, secure method of proving it is you trying to login to your Gmail.

The good news? Google has made 2FA quite easy to set up and use but they have recently made it even easier to use. Read on to learn how it works. 

How It Has Worked In The Past
You go to Gmail.com and are asked to sign in. You enter your email, then your password, and you are in. If a hacker guesses your password—or you are using a computer with keylogger malware on it sending your login credentials back to a hacker—then your email is easily compromised:

Signing in to Gmail without using 2FA

How It Works Using 2FA With Smartphone Gmail App
Let’s say you have 2FA already turned on (since you might, for instance, be using Google Authenticator (iOS; Android) to generate your 2FA codes) and you want to login in to your Gmail in a web browser. You sign in with your Gmail address and password and are then prompted to enter the code generated by the Google Authenticator app on your phone. Once that six-digit codes is entered, you are securely and safely logged in to your Gmail/Google account.

Even if a blackhat hacker somehow guesses (or installed a keylogger to get) your password, they would also have to have your smartphone in order to sign in to your Gmail.

On my iPhone I’ve bypassed Apple’s Mail app and used the Gmail app made by Google (iOS; Android) for years. I have one Gmail account for personal use and three GSuite accounts for business use, all of which are easily managed since the Gmail app works with multiple Google accounts, and it is vital I keep them all protected.

Google now has delivered a second, even easier method of proving your Gmail sign-in is actually you with 2FA: Instead of prompting you for a code and you finding the Google Authenticator app on your smartphone, you instead reach for your smartphone and launch the Gmail app. It then asks if you approve the sign-in:

Signing in to Gmail with 2FA by using the Gmail app on a smartphone

How To Set Up and Use 2FA: Articles
Again, please, please, please use 2FA with your email. It may seem like a pain-in-the-butt to use, but think of the alternative if your bank, brokerage, Amazon account, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and other accounts are hacked! Then imagine the damage that could be caused and you’ll quickly realize setting up 2FA (and actually using it) is a tiny price to pay for major extra security!

Here are some resources you can use to quickly learn about 2FA, how to set it up, and how to use the Gmail app on your smartphone:

Here is a good video overview of What is Two-Factor Authentication?

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

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