Did you forget to celebrate Safer Internet Day earlier this week? (It was last Tuesday, I missed it too.) Do not fret! It's not too late to give away a belated Safer Internet Day gift with the best gift I'll use for anyone using a Google Account: confirmation in two steps.
2-step verification adds another layer of security to your account. With this option turned on, you (or a potential hacker) need to take two steps to sign in to your Gmail account. In addition to your regular password, you'll need a six-digit code that will be sent to your phone every time you try to log in. This means that hackers can not get into your account even if they've cracked your password. You also need the physical possession of your phone.
If that seems too cumbersome, do not worry. You do not really have to wait for this text code every time you log in. Learn how to set up a 2-step verification process for your Google Account in just minutes, and how to do it. Add extra steps to your daily routine.
Enabling Two-Step Verification
In Settings, go to the Security page to get started. Click 2-Step Review and then the Getting Started button to log in to your Google Account and enable two-step verification.
By default, verification codes are sent to your phone via SMS. However, you can instead receive prompts through the Google app. It not only saves you typing the code, but also
Google recommends that you set up at least one backup option if you can not access your phone. You can print a handful of security codes that you keep in a safe place. You can also use the Google Authenticator app as a backup option or as a USB security key.
First release June 15, 2015.
February 7, 2019 update: Adds information that reflects changes on the Google Security page.