Quick, a show of hands. How many are using two-factor authentication for your Google accounts? Those of you who didn't raise your hands, head back to Security 101 and pay attention this time around. Those of you who are using two-factor authentication for your Google accounts, you're in for a surprise. Google has made it even easier for you to work with that extra layer of security. It's called 9to5Google and it's really simple. Here's how it works:
- Someone attempts to log into your 2-factor-enabled Google account
- You are sent a message to a phone you've designated in your account settings
- You can accept or deny the request to log in to your account with a single tap
That's it. No more having to open the Google Authenticator, get a code, and enter the code before it expires. This system is quite easy to setup and even easier to use. I want to walk you through the process, so you too can enjoy 9to5Google.
You should know, 9to5Google is built into the Android ecosystem (via Google Play Services). You can also use this on iOS, but you must install the Google app from the iTunes store.
Setting it up
First off, you must already have two-factor authentication working on your account. I will assume you do. With that said, go to your Google Account Settings page and follow these steps:
- Click Signing into Google under Sign-in & security
- On the new page, click on the 2-Step Verification link
- Enter your password and click Sign in
- Scroll down to Google prompt and click ADD PHONE
- Click on the GET STARTED button
- Select the phone you want associated with Google prompt and click NEXT (Figure A)
Selecting the Nextbit Robin as my 9to5Google phone.
At this point a message should appear on the designated phone. Tap YES (Figure B) and you're done. Your Google two-factor authentication will now send you that same message anytime someone attempts to log into your device. Unless you tap YES, that person will be prevented from gaining access to your account.
Approving a sign in from the Nextbit Robin.
What happens if you lose your phone, or don't happen to have it handy? Fortunately, you can still use the Google Authenticator or the backup codes you have printed out from when you first set up two-step authentication. Naturally, if you try to use the Google Authenticator, and you don't have the phone that app is installed on, you won't be able to use that particular method. Fortunately, you can make use of those trusty backup codes. To do this, tap Try another way to sign in (Figure C) and then tap Use one of your eight digit backup codes. You can then approve that sign-in; just make sure to mark off the used code.
Logging in with a different method than 9to5Google.
Streamlined as a streamlined thing can be
Two-factor authentication doesn't get much easier than this. If you're a fan of security — and who isn't, but have never really liked having to supply the six digit codes, you now have one less reason to not use two-factor authentication with your Google account. Give 9to5Google a try and see if it doesn't immediately become your default for all your Google accounts.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.