How to enable Twitter's two-factor authentication

Twitter finally launched two-factor authentication to help you keep your account secure. Here's what you need to know to set it up.

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Jason Cipriani/CNET

In an effort to add an extra layer of security to your Twitter account, take a few seconds out of the day and setup two-step verifications on your account. The added layer of security requires you to enter your password, and then a subsequent six-digit access anytime you try to log into Twitter. The short code is sent via text message to your cell phone, which means that any would-be hackers would need to not only crack your password, but to also have physical possession of your cell phone.

With the service enabled, you'll spend a few extra seconds to log into the service, but having a secure account is worth it.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Setting up Twitter's two-factor authentication requires you to use a computer and visit your security settings page. You can also log in to your Twitter account on Twitter.com, navigate to Settings, followed by clicking on the Security & privacy link to the left to the page.

Check the box next to "Send login verification requests to (my number)." If you don't already have a phone number attached to your account, follow the prompts to add one. With the box checked, a series of prompts letting you know that the service is about to be enabled, and that it requires you to connect your mobile phone number to your Twitter account.

Conversely, you can opt to have Twitter send the verification code to your smartphone via the official Twitter app. But I'd advise to use your phone number instead, as you can easily replace a lost phone and regain access to your phone number. Accessing the app you had installed on a lost device doesn't offer the same convenience.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You'll receive a test text message, verifying that you have the right number added to your account. After indicating that you received the message, you're done setting up two-factor authentication.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The next time you try to log into the website, you'll use the same password you have now, but after entering it you'll be prompted to enter the code sent to your phone.

There will be times when apps and services aren't set up to deal with the added verification step properly, and when that does happen you'll need to have a random password generated to log in with. To get the temporary password, you'll need to visit your account's password settings page and click on the "Generate" button at the top of the page. Use this temporary password in place of your standard password when logging into the app or service.

This piece was originally published May 22, 2013, and has been updated.

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