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Help How to Make Your Google Account More Secure
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We all know there are risks to storing personal information online, yet few of us take even the most basic precautions, like choosing unique and hard-to-guess passwords.

On Thursday, Google will introduce a tool, known as two-step verification, that will make Google accounts more secure and less vulnerable to hackers and phishing scams.

Google users who choose to use the tool will still enter their passwords to get to Google accounts like Gmail, Picasa and Google Docs. But they will also need to enter a second verification code, generated on the spot for one-time use and sent to their cellphone through a text message, phone call or app.

“Passwords tend to be the weakest link in the process of securing a Google account,” said Nishit Shah, a product manager for Google security who worked on the project. “We wanted to improve the security of the account in a way that is not just something the user knows, the password, but what the user has, the phone.”

The threat is a real one. For instance, a hacker reached personal and business information about Twitter and its executives by breaking into e-mail accounts. And when you get those e-mails that say friends are abroad and in dire need of money, a phishing scheme is to blame.

Google’s new operating system for laptops, called Chrome OS, stores all of a user’s information in the cloud and none of it on a computer hard drive, making strong security even more important.

Businesses have used tools that require several passwords to access company systems for years, and Google started offering its business customers the service last year. But consumer Web sites haven’t done it, in part because the security hardware that companies give employees, like key fobs, is expensive and inconvenient.

Google has tried to overcome that by delivering the codes on cellphones, something most people have with them all the time. Users can provide a backup phone number in case their phone is dead or lost, and receive a list of 10 backup codes to use if they can’t get the codes via phone. And people who don’t want to enter two codes each time they access their Google account can tell Google to remember the code for 30 days.

Google users can find a link to set up two-step verification on the account settings page.
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