In recent weeks, hackers and viruses have reared their ugly heads more frequently and successfully than we've seen in a while. And worst of all, they're not just coming through our outdated email addresses and Friendster; they've crept across Facebook and our beloved Gmail.
Facebook already has stepped up to the plate by offering a secure HTTPS connection, and now Gmail has followed suit by rolling out an advanced login option.
You can check out the official Google Blog for details, but, in summary, they have built a thorough system - to a fault. It all starts simple enough...
Step 1: Open your account settings and select 2-step verification.
Step 2: Download the Google Authenticator App on your phone and scan the QR code on your computer.
Step 3: The QR code will give you a six-digit code that randomly regenerates every minute. Just type that code into the next screen.
Step 4: You're then provided 10 backup codes to print and store in a safe, easily accessible location, should you lose your phone.
Step 5: Finally, you input a backup phone number, should all of this fail you.
Step 6: Just when you think it's over, Google determines if you use a phone or desktop application, and then you'll have to get another code ... and then I passed out from sheer exhaustion.
The whole process really only takes 15 minutes and can secure your whole Google world, which is truly fantastic. I had to log out and start over because my randomly generated codes were repeatedly rejected but the second time was the charm.
I've never been hacked, so maybe I have a rosy disposition, but I just didn't deam this necessary for my Gmail. However, this could be a vital tool for independent contractors or others who run their companies from their Gmail accounts. Just clear some time and get organized before diving in or you'll burn up a lot of time going through the process.
P.S. - To all the hackers out there, I didn't secure my Google account with the codes pictured above so don't even think about hacking me.
Photo credit: Truthout.org on Flickr.