Updated 06/21/16: Includes more recent and accurate images, as well as information about Google's new on-phone prompt. You don't have to possess a stash of nude selfies in your Google account to know that it's time to take better precautions against getting hacked. Two-factor authentication (also called two-step verification) is one of the best weapons you can use against digital thieves. Fortunately, it is rather easy to set up for your Google account, providing an extra layer of security to guard against unwanted access to your stuff. Every time you sign in to your Google account it will require not only your password (you are using a password manager, right?) but a six-digit code generated through a text message, the Google Authenticator app, or an approval from the Google prompt.
Two-factor authentication, while basically essential for protecting important aspects of your online life nowadays, can also be annoying, especially if you juggle a lot of accounts. Usually, the two-factor authentication (or 2-step verification, as Google calls it), works as follows: When you log into your Google account from a new computer, you need to enter an additional 6-character code that's sent to your previously approved phone. Now, Google just added an option to its 2-step verification feature that makes this much easier: Instead of typing a code, you'll just have to unlock your phone and confirm your identity with a single tap. SEE ALSO: Don't be like Mark: How to protect your social accounts from being hacked To enable this option, go to My Account, section "Sign-in & Security" and choose "Signing in to Google" followed by "2-Step Verification." There, choose "Google Prompt" as the default option, and activate a device you will use for this purpose.
Instagram has become the latest social network to enable two-factor authentication, a valuable security feature that protects accounts from being compromised due to password reuse or phishing. Users can, and should, opt in by clicking on the settings icon in the top right of their profile, hitting two-factor authentication in the following menu, and enabling the setting to "require security code". Once enabled, the app will text a six-digit code to users' phones every time they want to log in to the service. A simple security measure, it nonetheless provides an added layer of protection against accounts being hacked by attackers who have managed to steal credentials. Instagram joins Facebook, Twitter, Google and many others in offering some form of two-factor verification.
It seems as though online security is at the top of everyone's priority list these days, and now Pinterest is stepping up to the plate. The social network is introducing a slate of new features aimed at protecting users' accounts. The most important of these is the rollout of two-factor authentication to all users. You can receive codes via text message or through an authentication app such as Google Authenticator. You can enable 2FA through the Security page on Account Settings after it's available to you.
Now might be a good time to add an extra layer of security to your Instagram account. As previewed in August, Instagram has switched on two-factor authentication using apps like Google Authenticator and Duo Mobile, promising a more secure sign-in process than receiving a text message (an option since 2016). You can enable it by visiting the Privacy and Security section of the mobile app's settings, choosing Two-Factor Authentication, and then toggling the Authentication App option. Instagram can scan for compatible authenticators on your phone or invite you to download one. The app-based approach offers one key advantage: it prevents the use of SIM hijacking campaigns to steer authentication text messages to another phone.