Google recently introduced 2SV or two-step verification. This kind of works like a Yubi key but instead of a USB device that authenticates your sign in, you will be using your Android smartphone instead. Every time you sign in to one of the services, you will receive a pop-up on your Android notifying you of crucial details and an option to accept or reject the sign in. Neat.
Let’s see how we can implement 2SV on iPhone so we can use Android phone to verify Google sign in on an iOS device. Don’t have an iOS device? I will also show you how to set up Android so you can sign in to various services using Android smartphone.
1. What You Need
There are a few criteria that you will need to meet before you can set up 2SV on your Android and iOS smartphones. If you don’t meet the prerequisites, you will need to have to continue using 2FA which is itself very secure but definitely not foolproof.
- You need Android 7 or higher
- Enable 2FA in Google
- The latest version of iOS
- Download and install Chrome on both Android and iOS
- Enable screen lock on Android/iOS
2. How to Set Up
You will begin with your Google Account. Create an account or sign in using an existing one and go to My Account. Under the Security tab on the right, you will find an option to ‘Use your phone to sign in’ and setup 2-Step Verification.
We will begin with the first option to see a short demo on how it works and then enable it immediately after. Click on ‘Use your phone to sign in’ and on the next screen, click on ‘Set It Up’.
You will be asked to enter your Google account password again for security reasons. Do it. On the next screen, you will see a drop down list of all the smartphones that have the same Google ID that you just used to sign in. Choose Android here because you want to use Android to sign in to your Google account. If you want to use your iPhone instead, you will choose that here.
Note that before you move forward, make sure that you have enabled screen lock on your Android and iOS phone. It can be either a pattern or a touch lock but there has to be some kind of a sign in safety. You will see in the above screenshot that Google verifies this too with a tick mark. Click on Next.
Why you need a screen lock? Without a screen lock, anyone can grab hold of your smartphone and use it to sign in to one of the many Google services or even 3rd party sites that you sign in using your preferred Google ID. A screen lock will protect you in case your phone is stolen or lost.
Enter your Google email ID in the next screen to test the newly enabled 2SV feature. Click on Next.
Google will now send a notification on your Android phone to test if you can enable sign in using your smartphone or not.
Unlock your Android phone and you will see a pop up like this.
This is a dummy message to check if the set up is working or not. Hence, you will only see two options with no additional information on the IP address or location. If you tap on Yes, the sign in will be approved and you will move to the next step in the setup process. If you tap on No, you will have to begin from scratch again. Tap on Yes.
If it is a success, you will be notified so. Finally, click on the Turn On button to complete the set up and turn on the feature.
Let’s try this in the real world and see how it works. Unlock your iPhone and try signing in to your Google account, the same one that you used to sign in to your Android phone and used to set up 2SV. Sign in to an app on your iPhone or a website using the same Google ID and you should receive a Google prompt which should look something like this.
This time, you will see more information like location, time, and device OS. As you can see, receiving sign-in prompts is a lot faster than entering 2FA codes using either Google Authenticator or any other authenticator app. It saves time and is equally safe if not more.
3. Device Unavailable
So what happens when your smartphone is stolen or misplaced? How do you receive Google 2SV prompts and sign in to that web or mobile app? This is where the backup comes in. You can choose to receive an SMS with a code on any mobile number. I would suggest you choose a different number than the one you chose to receive 2SV prompts for obvious reasons.
To set that up, go back to Google My Account and under Security, select 2-Step Verification.
This time, you will find some new options. First, there is a Voice or text message option. Click on Add Phone to add a backup number where you can receive SMS codes to sign in to apps and sites on iPhone.
The second option is Backup codes which are nothing but one-off passwords that you can use to sign in. These backup codes can be used only once. It is recommended that you print these codes and save them offline to protect it from getting stolen. If it gets in the wrong hands, they can sign in to your Google account and wreak havoc. To begin, click on Set Up.
There are two more options below that in case you need to foolproof your sign in process even more. The 3rd option is the Authenticator app. This can be used to generate codes even offline so you don’t need an active Internet connection to sign in. Click on Set Up to begin. You will have to download the Authenticator app for Android or iOS respectively. Just scan the QR code displayed on your screen with the Authenticator app and it will be added to your app, generating a new usable code every 30 seconds clockwise.
The fourth option is the physical USB security key that you will plug into your computer before trying to sign in to a site in order to authenticate the process. This is the most secure kind of authentication possible, according to many experts. I would suggest you go for Yubkey in case you want to set this up. Click on Add Security Key to begin.
Google 2-Step Verification
User names and passwords are no longer secure. You need a second layer of protection and there are a few ways to achieve this. You can go for 2FA or two-factor authentication which is itself secure but the only trouble is, after entering your password, you will have to enter the generated code from an authentication app. Takes time but worth the effort. 2SV or tw-step verification solves this problem by allowing users to use their Android phone as a physical key that will show a pop up every time you sign in to an account. Tapping once on the pop up is much faster than opening the authenticator app and entering the code manually. Still, it is wise to set up a backup in case you lose access to your Android phone.