You may have heard about Google’s latest effort to improve the account security for Google account users: 2-Step verification. Google basically adds a second authentication layer to the standard username and password log in process. The second step utilizes a smartphone with options to receive a one-time code per SMS or to install an app that generates the code whenever it is needed.
The feature is still being rolled out to all Google account holders and it can take some time before it becomes available. I just found an interesting article on Caschy’s German blog where he explains how to start using the 2-step verification right now, even if the option is not displaying in the settings of the account yet.
Before I explain how that’s done lets take a look under account settings first to see if 2-step verification is available there. Go to Google and click the sign in button at the top right of the screen. Enter your username and password and wait until you are logged in. Now click on the tools icon at the far right of the screen next to Your Account name and select Account Settings from the options.
Using 2-step verification appears under Personal Settings on the next screen, if it is already enabled for the account.
If you cannot see it there you cannot activate it yet. That is, unless you try the following tweak:
All you need to do is to append ?hl=en at the end of the url to enable the feature. This basically switches the language from your native language to English. The change is only temporary and only to make the configuration change. To make it simpler, just click on this link which loads the English Account Settings right away.
One problem that users may run into is that the app for Android, iPhone or Blackberry devices may not be available in their local marketplace yet. This was for instance the case when I tried to load the Google Authenticator app on my Samsung Android device. SMS verification seems to be available on the other hand but it is not clear if it is available in all countries or only select countries.
This works for Google Apps users as well. They need to open Advanced Tools on the Google Apps dashboard and enable Two-step-verification next to the Authentication setting there. Once done it is possible to activate 2-step-verification under the Google Account settings.
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