Google starts auto-enrolling accounts to use two-factor authentication — stay away from SMS

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Google announced it will force users to use two-factor authentication to sign in earlier this year, and the tech giant is honoring its word by auto-enrolling people to use its 2-Step Verification (2SV) process.

Google's goal is to automatically enroll 150 million user accounts to start using its two-factor authentication security process by the end of 2021, which requires people to sign in using a password and confirm their identity on another device via a "Google Prompt" — commonly done on a smartphone. 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a digital authentication method used to confirm the identity of a user to allow them access to a website or app through at least two pieces of evidence. Two-factor authentication (2FA), which Google calls 2VS, is the most commonly used method.

As spotted by Android Police, a user on Reddit has been notified that Google is making its verification process mandatory. The company states it will notify users via email around seven days before enforcing 2SV on their personal accounts. However, companies with Google Workspace accounts will still have the choice to use the security process or not. 

(Image credit: Google)

Despite Google making it mandatory, 2FA is an extra layer of security that is worth setting up. Google's aim is to "reduce the reliance on passwords in the long-term," but recognizes some 2SV options aren’t suitable for everyone. The company claims it is working on "technologies that provide a convenient, secure authentication experience."

As the Reddit post points out, using a phone number or an SMS method can be tricky for those who constantly use different SIM cards. The easiest method is to use the Google app on a smartphone, but that isn't the only reason to opt out of using your personal phone number. As you'll find in our PSA about two-factor authentication, malicious hackers can easily use 2FA against users that use their phone numbers.

More accounts will be enrolled to start using Google's 2-Step Verification process over the next few months, so keep an eye out for an email. For the best way to use two-factor authentication, check out our guide on how to do 2FA right

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.