In the wake of Mat Honan’s massive, worst-case scenario hacking a couple weeks ago, a number of cloud services have introduced two-step authentication, a feature that drastically improves the security of your online accounts.
Two-step (also called “two-factor”) authentication refers to two independent ways of verifying your identity when attempting to log into an account: a typical username/password combination plus some other method, usually a temporary code sent to your smartphone via SMS or a special app. This way, a potential hacker would have to physically have possession of your smartphone, in addition to your username/password combo, in order to get into your account.
For many people, especially those who have sensitive emails, documents, or other data in the cloud, enabling two-step verification is a no-brainer. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it pales in comparison to the headache and expense of having your online life compromised. Just ask Mat Honan.
Gmail has had this feature for some time, though most people don’t use it or don’t know it exists. As of today, Dropbox now has a two-step verification option as well.
To get started, follow Macworld’s step-by-step guide (you’ll need your smartphone and the latest preview release of the Dropbox software).