Google will enable two-factor authentication. By Default


Image credit: Google

When someone asks me how they can improve their online security, I recommend that they enable two-factor authentication (2FA). By adding a security element other than your password, such as a Google Authenticator code, you make it orders of magnitude more difficult for someone to break into your online accounts, even if they have your password.

Most major online services, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, already support two-factor authentication. However, Google will soon make 2FA (also known as two-step verification, or 2SV) the default setting.

In a blog post published on Thursday, timed to coincide with World Password Day (yes, that’s a thing), Google’s security chief Mark Risher paints a future without passwords.

“You may not realize it, but passwords are the single greatest threat to your online security – they’re easy to steal, difficult to remember, and tedious to manage,” he writes. Google has created tools, such as the Password Manager, that make it easier to manage difficult-to-remember passwords — to the point where you never need to know your passwords by heart.

However, passwords are still not completely gone. By default, Google improves account security by turning 2FA on until this happens.

“If your accounts are properly settled, we’ll automatically start enrolling users in 2SV soon,” writes Risher. In Google’s Security Checkup, you can verify the status of your account by telling you if 2FA is on, showing you recent security activities, displaying signed devices, etc.

PCWorld has some more details about what “configured correctly” means. Jonathan Skelker, Google’s account security product manager, said it means that users already have retrieval data such as a phone number or a secondary mail on their accounts.

I prefer opt-in to opt-out features typically. But nowadays it is really easy to compromise your password. For instance, you’ve had a problem if you used the same password on multiple websites. I, therefore, welcome Google’s automatic use of this feature.

There is also no precise schedule when 2FA for users starts to be enabled beyond Risher’s “soon.”

Also read: Google wants to add Ultra Wideband to its Pixel 6 family

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