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article imageTwo-factor authentication gets quicker with Google's new app

By James Walker     Jun 21, 2016 in Technology
Google has launched a new way to approve sign-in requests using two-factor authentication that makes the process easier to use. You'll be able to tap a push notification to approve yourself, potentially making the feature more attractive to new users.
Enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible is an easy way to better protect your online identity. The premise is simple: requiring you to authenticate yourself twice at sign-in is more secure than asking for a single password. It also prevents people who may have stolen your phone or PC from gaining access as they'll still need a second device.
Two-factor authentication typically works by sending a code via an SMS message to your phone once you've signed in. You then have to manually enter this code to approve the sign-in and gain access to the app or website you're trying to access. It works but it can be slow and confusing.
Google has developed a better solution that revolves around push notifications on smartphones. An update to the Google Search app today simplifies the process. Once you've enabled two-factor authentication for your Google account, you'll now be able to approve requests without waiting for SMS messages and confirmation codes.
When you attempt to sign-in to your account, a notification will be sent to your phone. Tapping the notification will open a prompt that allows you to immediately grant or deny access with a single tap. The message indicates the identity of the device that is accessing your account as well as its location, letting you see at a glance whether an attacker is trying to gain access.
Android users shouldn't need to do anything to access the new prompt. Google Play Services should update automatically and add support for the feature. iPhone users will need to have the Google Search app installed for it to operate. The old SMS confirmation method will remain active as a fallback for when there is no data connection or an incompatible device is used.
Google makes it simple to enable two-factor authentication for your account from its online interface. You need to sign-in and then head to the "Sign-in & security" section of My Account. The options for two-factor authentication are contained inside the "Signing into Google" section.
On this page you should find a new option called "Google Prompt." Turning this on will enable verification via push notifications, assuming you own a compatible mobile device. It's worth noting you should probably prevent people opening notifications from your lock screen to maintain the integrity of the prompt.
The move to two-factor authentication (2FA) across the industry helps to strengthen your security online. It is now offered by nearly all major services and costs you only a few seconds at sign-in in exchange for much higher barriers against hackers accessing your account. With features like push notification sign-in, 2FA becomes much less of a burden. It could encourage more people to adopt the feature, improving overall online security.
More about Google, Security, Accounts, Online, online accounts
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