Aug 21, 2012

Use Your iPhone to Protect Your Email Account

The Internet is a dangerous place. Every service you sign up for requires an email address. If someone is able to hijack your email account, that person can cause a lot of damage. This happened to Mat Honan, Senior Writer at, a technology news site.  The hacker in this case seemed more concerned with vandalism, but having your email account hacked can lead to even worse, including identity theft.

Adding Additional Security

If you use Gmail or Yahoo! Mail, they have an option that will provide extra security for your email account and it involves your iPhone. (This is a very iOS-centered blog, but if you have an Android or Blackberry phone, keep reading, because this is applicable for you as well.) Both of these allow you to turn on a feature that requires a verification code in addition to your password any time that you sign into your email account.  With both of these services, you can have this verification code texted to you. This makes it very difficult for someone without your phone to get into your email account. Google and Yahoo! both provide setup instructions that will walk you through this:

Google 2-step Verification
Yahoo! Second Sign-in Verification

Making it Easier

If getting a text message every time you have to log in sounds like a pain, then your in luck if you have Gmail.  Google has a free app for the iPhone called Google Authenticator that makes this easy. Once you have set up this option, just open up the app and the code is there on the screen. The verification code changes about every 30 seconds so someone would have to have your phone to log into your account.

Some Final Thoughts

I highly recommend you set this up if you have Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. It won't take long. If you use Gmail, you'll need to read up on app-specific passwords as you'll have to generate one to get your email in the Mail app on your iPhone or iPad. (This is a one-time setup that is a lot easier than it sounds.)

If you have email through some other provider or you are using your work email account for personal email, I suggest switching to either Gmail or Yahoo! mail for your personal email because of this feature. My recommendation would be Gmail because of its other features: a large amount of space, excellent spam filtering, and top-notch search of your emails.

If you've read this far, and you are still not convinced, read what this guy has to say.


  1. I enabled 2 factor authentication on Gmail after reading Mat's horror story. The sad part is that huge technology companies are still susceptible to social engineering which was really the main problem in his case.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Yes, Amazon and Apple had serious holes in their policies. With this being a high-profile case, I'm confident that some of those policies are being given a second look.


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