As you bounce around the internet on any device – computer, phone, tablet – or if you’ve started using a new device, you may notice you’re being asked to verify it’s you who wants to access a website or your email.

It’s known as the two-step verification process. It’s here to stay (until something better comes along), and it’s to your advantage to use it wherever possible.

Two-step verification is needed because most of us have bad passwords and don’t always take precautions to protect our online security. We have weak passwords, and when a website is breached, our information winds up on the dark web for sale to cyber criminals. Thus, the industry has added this second layer of protection for our benefit.

How does it work?

In most cases, two-step verification works like this:

  • When you sign into a website, you’ll be required to enter your password (that’s the first step).
  • You will then be asked to enter a code of some sort that you get from your email or another device (that’s the second step).
  • In most cases, you’ll need to get a verification code, and you’ll be asked if you want to receive it as a text message to your cellphone or an email to your computer. Make sure they have your correct cellphone number or email address. If one or both is incorrect, it could mean a hacker has your password or you’ve been lax in updating your information.
  • You’ll be asked to enter the code you just received.
  • In most cases, the verification is for a specific device, and once you indicate that you want that device recognized, you won’t need to go through the process again.

For the most part, the whole process is straightforward and not that difficult.

Keep in mind, the advantage of any two-step verification process is that as long as hackers don’t have your computer or device, they won’t see the required code. And without the code, they can’t log in as you – unless they’ve hijacked your email, which is another problem. We like using a text message to your cellphone as the primary method for two-step verification because it’s most likely that you will have the device with you.

A needed inconvenience

It’s no secret that a majority of the tech industry believes too few people don’t take good enough care of their online security. Tech companies know it will be an “unliked” inconvenience for many of their customers, but they believe they need to take matters into their own hands by requiring new verification routines. 

We find this a welcome requirement, but beyond that, we strongly urge all to take advantage of two-step verification when it’s offered. 

Gene Rubel

Gene Rubel is a tech consultant and writer based in Sandy Springs.