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A step for protecting your online accounts from hackers and scammers

File photo.
(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

It had to be there: Two-factor authentication (2FA) – which is an extra step that is supposed to keep our devices and personal data to protect – only not more cuts.

The idea behind 2FA is simple: You log in to an account using your user name and password of a new browser, location or device, and you will receive the second authentication request, such as a text with a temporary PIN. You enter this temporary code and voila – you’re in. Because most hackers can’t get access to your phone, your account should be safe. Your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts already have 2FA set up. If not, learn how to set up 2FA on the most popular accounts with the help of my step-by-step guide.

Technology is always evolving, and cyber criminals have found errors in the 2FA system – especially if you make use of your phone. Hackers find ingenious ways to hijack phone numbers.

Wonder how the criminals pull it off? I have the scoop on the SIM-card swaps that is fascinating.

Stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

I have the steps that you can follow to a secondary number that refers the calls and texts on your primary mobile phone. Secondary numbers are common among freelancers and small entrepreneurs, who don’t necessarily want to carry around several phones.

When you set up 2FA, your secondary number is your primary phone safe. If you lose your personal phone, switch carriers, or your number is compromised, your secondary number will remain separate, and your 2FA texts are still accessible via a web browser or another phone.

A second “burner” number of

Google Voice offers you a free phone number for voice calls, sms and voicemail. All you need is an active Google account. Learn how to use Google Voice with my tips.

Here is how you set up a Google Voice number:

1. Install the Google Voice app available for iOS and Android. You can also access Google Voice on your computer using a web browser.

2. Link your Google account.

3. After linking the app asks you to choose a Google Voice number. You can search for available numbers of the postal code or the city, but you’re probably better off taking what they suggest. (I couldn’t get a Google Voice number in my home state of Arizona; the nearest available numbers on the day that I was in California and Iowa.)

4. After choosing your Google Voice number, you are required to link and verify your account to an active mobile phone number. All your Google voice calls and sms messages can be forwarded to this number, that also. However, if you’re going to use the Google Voice number for 2FA, you need to go back and disable call forwarding. You can’t use Google Voice for both 2FA and receive calls and sms. It is an either / or thing.

5. Google will send a six-digit code for your linked phone number to verify your Google Voice account. Enter this code and make sure that they match.

6. That’s it. You are set to use your Google Voice phone number.

From now on, instead of using your own phone number for that second level of authentication of the identity, you can use your Google Voice number.

There is one downside to this method. Since your Google Voice number is linked to your Google account, if hackers manage to compromise with your Google account, you are actually back at square one, because they also have access to your 2FA codes.

Another safe option: Use an authenticator app

In many ways, authenticator apps are much easier and safer than a text message. They are specifically designed to help with two-factor authentication, and services such as Google Authenticator can protect your login and minimize exposure to hackers.

Google users are particularly encouraged to make use of an authenticator app for your 2FA codes. In addition to Google Authenticator, you can use a different authentication apps as a Duo, Authy, Microsoft, LastPass, or FreeOTP.

The instructions on how to set up and use Google Authenticator on my site.

Or use a smartphone app

In addition to 2FA security, it’s almost a necessity to have multiple numbers, so you don’t have to give out your personal number. Whether you’re online dating, buying and selling on Craigslist, or on a journey, it is smart to get a second number to give.

With the right app on your smartphone, you can have multiple lines and phone numbers on one phone. These apps can give you a secondary number for as long as you need it.

What the digital lifestyle, if you have any questions? Call my radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. Of the buy of an opinion to the digital world problems, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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