Absolutely, the convenience of cloud computing means that you don’t need to rely nearly as much on local storage and you can effectively access your files from any computer, anywhere in the world. This creates a double-edged sword, however, as it makes you vulnerable to hacks, thefts, and data leaks. This is why it’s so important to have proper security for any of your cloud-based exploits. While your Dropbox account was only protected by a single password in the past, Dropbox has now introduced 2-step verification.
This adds another layer of Dropbox security so that people who try to hack into your account will have a much more difficult time doing so. While the most ardent and motivated of hackers can likely get into anything, an extra layer of protection means that you can deter a greater number of bad guys from trying to access your account and your files.
What Is 2-Step Verification?
Your Dropbox account by default is protected by a password. If you go to any public computer, you can use the web browser to navigate to the Dropbox website, enter your username and password, and gain access to your cloud-based files. Of course, this means that if your password is compromised, so is your account.
As its name implies, 2-step verification has two steps of verification. The first step is your username and password, as normal, but the second step is that you’ll need to enter a time-sensitive six-digit security code too. This code changes every few seconds; you can either have it sent you via SMS as you need it or, more conveniently, you can use one of the authorized smartphone apps to get the six-digit code.
Activating 2-Step Verification for Dropbox
While 2-step verification is absolutely voluntary, it’s highly recommended for anyone who wants to add an extra layer of security to his or her Dropbox account. Yes, it can make things a little less convenient, but that’s the price of protection. The way 2-step verification for Dropbox works is fundamentally the same as 2-step verification for Google.
So, the first thing you’ll need to do is turn it on. Using a web browser, preferably on a computer that has already accessed your Dropbox account before and is listed under your list of “My Devices,” go ahead and log into your account. You can then go to the security tab in your account. Here, you’ll find the “My Devices” list, as well as a list of current web sessions.
Toward the bottom-left is a box labeled account sign in. It’s here that you see your email address and the option to change your password. Below this is the new option for two-step verification. You’ll see that is disabled. Click on the “change” link next to that and a lightbox will pop up so you can take the next steps.
Text Messages or Mobile App
You’ll need to re-enter your Dropbox password and then choose to turn on two-step verification. After that, you’ll be given two options. You can either have your six-digit codes sent to you via SMS or you can use a mobile app. For the next message option, you provide your mobile phone number, a security code is sent to that number, and then you enter it in the appropriate field when prompted.
Personally, I think the much better option is the smartphone app. At this time, 2-step verification for Dropbox supports Google Authenticator (Android, iOS, BlackBerry), Amazon AWS MFA for Android, and Authenticator for Windows Phone 7. I prefer Google Authenticator, since I’m already using it for my Google account.
Open up the Google Authenticator app on your smartphone, open the menu and then choose to add a new account. You can then scan the QR code that is displayed in your web browser to connect the accounts. On the next page, Dropbox will ask you to enter the current six-digit security code. And that’s it. You’re all set.
A Safer Way to Cloud Compute
Using 2-step verification for Dropbox, if nothing else, grants you greater peace of mind when it comes to the private files that you may store in your Dropbox account. This makes it at least as secure as your Google Drive files. If you happen to lose your phone or simply don’t have access to it, Dropbox also provides a single backup code. You’ll want to stash this in a safe place, just in case.
Image credit: Dropbox.com