Google just made two-step authentication a lot less painful


Digits be gone! You can now sign in to Google sites with one phone tap

Two-step authentication – otherwise known as two-factor authentication or the slightly less unwieldy “2FA” – is a pretty important security tool these days, but it sure is irritating. Not just its terrible name, but the whole process. You sign in on a computer, get a text message or email with a code that you have to manually type out, and only then can you log in.

Yes, it makes it that bit harder for you to be hacked, as it means the hacker needs access to at least two of your devices or passwords, but it’s fiddly enough that most people just can’t be bothered until it’s too late.

Google has had a stab at making things simpler, and it’s actually really good. Because pretty much everyone has a smartphone and the vast majority of them are using iOS or Android, Google reckons that linking your account to your handset is safe enough. If you try to log in to Gmail on a new PC, your phone will receive a prompt asking you if it’s okay. Just say that it is, and you’re good to go. No unwieldy entry of numbers or text: just a single tap.

READ NEXT: Why you should use two-step authentication

Google only lets you do this if you have a lockscreen on your phone, and it requires either Android or an iPhone 5s or later. You have to opt in to the system to get it working, and here’s how.

How to enable Google Prompt 2FA:

  1. Head to the Security section of your Google account.

  2. Click on “2-Step Verification”.

  3. A new option called “Google Prompt” should be there. Select it.

  4. Select your phone from the dropdown box (most people will only have one, but just to be safe).

  5. Google will send a test prompt to confirm. Select “yes” on your phone when it comes through and you’re good to go!

Of course, this won’t solve ALL your 2FA problems in one go. Any sites that aren’t Google will still require you to do things the old-fashioned way, but given that people use an awful lot of Google services, it’s a good one to start with.

Image: Japanexpertana used under Creative Commons

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