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Hacking and a rant on texting

Aug - 7 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard

I just finished reading an article by Mat Honan on how his digital life was hacked and totally destroyed due to one hacker who just wanted to get his hands on Mat’s 3 letter Twitter handle. This is a must read! More and more of our lives are in the cloud and more and more of our content accessible via other accounts (Google linked to Twitter linked to Amazon linked to iCloud …) making it easy to get in to all of them with info for just one.

Drawing of a key by John LeMasney via 365sketches.org

One of the things that Mat recommends is to turn on two factor security in Google (and so do others). So I went right to that because I am an Android phone user and have an Android tablet and Google is my life. Here’s where it gets tricky though! In order to do this I have give them my cell phone number so they can text me, well I don’t pay for a texting plan because why bother when I have data and Google Voice. Why waste my money each month on a texting plan that I don’t need to send texts? So, now where am I? Forced to pay per text so I can set up this two factor security? Of course I’m going to do it, but I’m just annoyed at the number of services out there that assume that you have a texting plan and don’t accept VOIP texting services (like Google’s own). I also get automated messages sometimes from new sites I sign up with or new services (like my new salon) I make appointments with – what is up with that? There was a time that no one would send a text without first asking if it was going to cost you to receive it?

Anyway, the real point of this post was to point you to this very important article on how hackers can get in to your accounts so you can protect yourself … the rant was just to make me feel better :)

If you’re using the extra authentication in Google I’d love to hear if you think it’s worth it and if it’s easy enough to use and if it sends more than one text message so I can budget for using it ;)

5 Responses so far.

  1. Julia says:

    I use Google’s two-factor security, and I find it plenty easy to use.

    How many text messages it sends depends mostly on how many different computers you log into Google from and on whether or not you ask Google to remember your authorization for 30 days. Every time you log in from a computer/mobile device that you’ve never logged in from before (or from one that you have but you’ve asked Google not to remember your authorization), it sends you a text message. Plus, once 30 days have passed, even if you’ve asked it to remember your authorization, when you log in from that computer again Google will send you a text message again. So if you only ever log into Google from, say, your home computer, your work computer, and your Android phone, you’ll get 3 text messages every 30 days. I’m in your shoes (I also don’t have a text messaging plan), I use Google from about that many devices, and the less than $1/month that the texts cost me is totally worth it, I think.

    But it looks like you may be able to set it up to not use text messages at all, if you have an Android phone? See http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=175197 . This is news to me — I just stumbled across that while double-checking that 30 days was indeed the maximum time it would “remember” a device — but it might be worth checking out?

  2. Nicole says:

    I did see that after the initial set up I can use an app from then on out so I’ll be setting this up because that article was way way scary. I’m also backing up my computer today – which I do every couple weeks anyway, but today I’m nervous :)

  3. John says:

    You might want to download the Google Authenticator app from the Play Store. That way you can authenticate without text messages.

  4. Nicole says:

    Yes, I did see that that was an option!

  5. Your illustration is fab!! :) Thanks for the kind attribution. You’re doing it right.


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