Google signs up 150 million people for two-factor authentication: What it is, how it works

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fairly easy
The extra step can better secure your accounts while protecting your personal information against hackers and fraud.
Angela Lang/CNET

Google, in observance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, plans to auto-enroll 150 million users in two-step verification and require two million YouTube creators to turn the security feature on by the end of 2021. Having a second form of authentication when you login to your accounts dramatically decreases the likelihood of an attacker gaining access to your personal information, the search giant said in a blog post.

Setting up two-step or two-factor authentication (also called 2FA) is becoming commonplace as a way to make it harder for scammers and fraudsters to gain control over your identity and accounts -- and to prove that you're really you. That's because it uses a second action to confirm your identity, for example before you bank online.

Two-factor verification goes hand in hand with use of a password manager that sets up and remembers complex passwords that are much more secure than a short set of words and symbols, such as P4ssW0rd*. Using both would boost your account security. While two-factor authentication can be time-consuming to set up for every account, it's relatively straightforward to set up and use, and well worth the effort.

In the spirit of cybersecurity awareness, we also recommend checking to see if your account passwords are already on the dark web (and then changing them) and seriously considering a password manager if you don't use one already (we no longer recommend LastPass, but Bitwarden is a good alternative).

Read more: Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Time for your safety check

What is two-factor, or two-step, authentication?

Two-factor authentication (also sometimes written as 2FA) is also commonly referred to as two-step verification or multifactor verification. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to refer to it as two-factor authentication or 2FA for the duration of this post.

Think of two-factor authentication as an extra layer of security for your online accounts. If you're not using 2FA on an account, your…
Jason Cipriani
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