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Google Introduces Two-Factor Authentication Option

Users can now generate a second, one-time password for Gmail and other accounts using a mobile phone

In an effort to help users increase the security of Gmail and other accounts, Google today introduced an option to add a second factor of authentication.

"As we announced to our Google Apps customers a few months ago, we've developed an advanced opt-in security feature called 2-step verification that makes your Google Account significantly more secure by helping to verify that you're the real owner of your account," Google says. "Now it's time to offer the same advanced protection to all of our users."

Two-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication: a password, plus a mobile phone-generated code the user only uses once.

It might take up to 15 minutes to enroll in the two-factor program, Google says. "Once you enable two-step verification, you'll see an extra page that prompts you for a code when you sign in to your account," the company says. "After entering your password, Google will call you with the code, send you an SMS message, or give you the choice to generate the code for yourself using a mobile application on your Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device."

By logging on with a one-time code as well as a password, "we'll have a pretty good idea that the person signing in is actually you," Google says.

With the two-factor program, a user will need both the user's password and the user's phone, Google observes. "A hacker would need access to both of these factors to gain access to your account," the company says.

Users can choose a "Remember verification for this computer for 30 days" option, which means they won't need to re-enter a code for another 30 days.

For more information on the two-factor authentication option, click "a href="http://www.staysafeonline.org/" target="new">here.

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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