Two step verification processes are becoming more and more significant today in the light of constant data breaches that are now becoming a part and parcel of our lives. We have discussed how you can keep your account secure by setting up two factor authentication on Gmail and Yahoo accounts before, as well as Google’s latest initiative to make 2 step verification even more secure with support for Support Key USB Drives. In today’s article, we take a look at how you can setup two step verification for Microsoft accounts.
What is Two Step Verification?
Two step verification also known as multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires a person with an online account to provide more than just a username and password as an identification to access his or her account. The additional authentication factor comes by way of a special code that is sent to the account holder either to his email account, to the mobile device, or by other methods. This double protection ensures that even if hackers happen to chance upon your passwords, they cannot login to the account as it will have to be verified by a code number, which can only be seen by the account holder.
How to Setup Two Step Verification for Microsoft Accounts
To setup Microsoft Account verification:
1. Login to your Microsoft account at https://account.live.com
2. In the Security & privacy section, click Change password & more.
3. In the Protect your account page, scroll down and in the two-step verification section, click Setup two-step verification.
4. In the next screen read through the instructions and click Next.
5. In the How else can we verify your identity page, you have 3 options. You can choose an app, a phone number or an alternate email address.
To verify by phone:
To verify your identity with a phone number, select the option from the drop-down. You will have to type in your phone number and select if you want to receive a call or a message. Select an option and click Next. You will receive a code on your phone number which you must then input on the next screen in your web page.
To verify by alternate email address:
To verify your identity with an alternate email address, select the option from the drop-down. You will have to type in your email address and click Next. You will receive a code on that email, which you must then input on the next screen in your web page.
To verify by app:
6. To verify your identity with a phone number, select the option from the drop-down. In the Set up an identity verification app, select which type of phone you want to install the app on and click Next. I’m choosing Android. (If you select any other type of phone, you will be asked to install the Authenticator app. Just follow the instructions on the app to generate the code)
6. In the Set up the Microsoft account app page, click the link to install the Microsoft account app on your phone. Once installed, open the app and tap set up now. Login to your Microsoft account with your credentials and click Next. Enter the last 4 digits of your phone number in the text box and click Next. A code will be sent to your phone. Input that code into the text box on the app and then click finish to complete the verification.
7. Navigate back to the Microsoft set up page on your web browser. You should be on the Set up the Microsoft account app screen. Click Next.
8. You will be asked to update the password for Windows Phone 8 apps because some synced apps and settings will not accept security codes. To do that: On your Windows Phone open Settings. Tap email+accounts. Tap your Microsoft account. Replace your password with the app password that is messaged to you by Microsoft. Tap the Done icon.
The advantage in setting up authentication via the app is that every time you login to your Microsoft account from a new device, you will receive a request to approve the code on your Microsoft or Authenticator app. You don’t have to enter codes every other time. Just tap on approve and its done.
One point to remember is that you only have 30 seconds to approve or it will become invalid and you will have to login and authenticate with a new code again. Although 2 step verifications are painful, you have the additional work of verifying only the first time you log in from a new device.
Its becoming increasingly easy to crack through passwords these days and the only armor for us is to setup two step verification for all our accounts. If you want more details about Microsoft’s two step verification process check out their Frequently Asked Questions section as well.