Sure, your exchange is pressuring you to do it, but why should you set up two-factor authentication? When you purchase a cryptoasset, you assume digital ownership of the value you just purchased. Owning your value is exciting and empowering but, as Uncle Ben from Spiderman taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. When you own cryptoassets, you are responsible for keeping them secure. Half of keeping your cryptoassets secure is having a strong password, but what if someone got your password somehow? This is where two-factor authentication comes in.
Two-factor authentication, often abbreviated as 2FA is a second layer of security that will keep your funds safe even if a bad actor gains access to your password. All major cryptocurrency exchanges support 2FA and we strongly recommend that you set up two-factor authentication to ensure the safety of your funds.
2FA works by requiring a code from your cell phone in addition to your password to log into your crypto related accounts and to send transactions on those accounts. 2FA can be configured to work through text messages or through an authentication app. Text message based 2FA can be hacked by bad actors who take over your phone number so we recommend using the app to ensure that only you can gain access to your funds. We will explain how to set up the authenticator app in this tutorial.
There are a number of different 2FA apps out there that all work the same way but the most popular one is Google Authenticator, because of that, this tutorial will demonstrate the configuration of Google Authenticator. There are also tons of different sites that support 2FA and the steps to configure it are basically the same. For this tutorial, we will be configuring it to work with Coinbase.
Step 1: Download Google Authenticator
If you use android, open the google play store, if you have an iPhone, open the app store. Once you are in your respective app for downloading apps, search for “google authenticator”. The first result in both stores is the app you are looking for, you can download it.
Step 2: Login to Coinbase
Go to www.coinbase.com and click “sign in” in the upper right-hand corner then enter your login credentials to sign in. This should bring you to your dashboard.
Step 3: Setup 2FA for Your Coinbase Account
To do this, first, locate the “settings” menu (circled in red below) on your Coinbase dashboard and click it.
Once inside settings look for the “security” submenu and click it. After arriving in the security section of settings, there is an option to set up your authenticator app which looks like a blue button that says “enable authenticator” it is toward the lower left-hand corner of your screen and is circled in red in the image below.
After clicking “enable authenticator” you will arrive at a screen with a QR code which looks like this:
Once on that screen, the first thing you need to do is write down the “authenticator secret code” which is located above the QR code and store it someplace safe and offline. Offline means that it is kept somewhere that is not connected to the internet, so not on the notepad of your phone or on a word doc on your computer. A good option is a handwritten copy that you keep somewhere safe, or you can create a document on your computer, copy it to a flash drive and delete the file from your computer. No matter what you do, it is important to have the secret code recorded somewhere so that you can recover your authenticator if something happens to your phone. Once set up, you will need your authenticator to login to Coinbase so it is important to have it backed up.
After your secret code is safely recorded and stored, you can unlock your phone and open the Google Authenticator app you just downloaded. Once open, tap “begin setup”, located at the bottom of the screen and select the first option which is “scan barcode”. After selecting this, your phone will ask permission for authenticator to use the camera, you can select “OK”.
Next, the camera on your phone will be activated and there will be a square in the middle of the screen, all you need to do is line up the QR code on the screen inside the square on your camera (we tried to depict this below, but we couldn’t line the QR code up and take a screenshot simultaneously so the picture doesn’t have it quite lined up).
Once the QR code is scanned, the screen will change and you will see a row of six numbers which change every 25 seconds labeled “Coinbase” with your email below them. There is also a little shrinking pie down and to the right of the numbers which indicates how long you have until the numbers change.
This constantly changing code is your “two-step verification code”. To confirm that the process went correctly, enter this code in the text box (circled in red) and then click the blue button that says “enable” (indicated by red arrow). Once you click to enable your 2FA will be set up and the window with the QR code will go away. If the window doesn’t go away, there is a chance that the code changed before you were able to click “enable”. If that is the case, wait until the numbers change, and the pie is full and try entering the numbers again.
Step 4: Enjoy the Security of 2FA
Once you have clicked enable and the window with the QR code disappears, you have set up your two-factor authentication! This means Coinbase will require you to enter the current code on your authenticator app every time you login and every time you send a transaction from this moment forward. If something happens to your phone or you accidentally delete the Google Authenticator app, you can always restore your authenticator with your secret code so make sure you have that recorded and stored in a secure place.
To set up 2FA on your other accounts, the process is the same. Just find the “setup 2FA” in the settings of the platform you would like to enable it on, click it, record your backup code, and scan the QR code they give you. This will add another row of constantly changing numbers to your authenticator app and another layer of security to whatever account you just enabled it on!
Thank you for checking out this tutorial! Hopefully, you have now set up your two-factor authentication and are now using it to keep you cryptocurrency accounts secure! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.