It seems like every day you read about another password security breach. It doesn't matter how robust your actual password is; if a hacker makes off with an entire password database, he can potentially access your account.
That's why an increasing number of sites and services are turning to two-factor authentication (also known as two-step verification), which adds a second level of security to individual accounts.
Evernote started offering this option a couple months ago, but only for users with a Premium subscription. Now, however, Evernote offers two-factor authentication for all account holders. Here's how to set it up:
1. Sign into your Evernote account in your Web browser.
2. Click your account name in the upper-right corner, then choose Account Settings.
3. Click Security in the toolbar at left. You'll see a Two-Step Verification option; click Enable. Note the message about updating your mobile apps (if you use any), which is required to take advantage of the feature.
4. Follow the prompts. You'll first need to field a confirmation email, which will include a verification code you'll enter back on the site. (You can also click an embedded confirmation button that'll open another instance of Evernote in a new tab. Either way is fine.)
5. Enter your mobile phone number and click Continue. In a few seconds you should receive another verification code, which you'll need to type into corresponding box on the site.
6. Now for the tricky part. Freebie accounts aren't entitled to verification via text message (aside from that initial one), so you'll need to install and use the free Google Authenticator app, which is available for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS. Once it's installed, click Continue with for whichever mobile OS you use.
7. Evernote will display (in your browser) a QR code you can scan with the Google Authenticator app. Scan it, then enter the numeric code generated within the app. (Whew! I know, a lot of steps, right?)
8. Finally, you should see a list of single-use backup codes you can use in the event you're unable to complete two-step verification. Make sure to write these down or print a copy, as you'll need to type/paste one in on the next screen!
By now you're probably thinking, "Hey, Rick, I came here for fewer hassles, not more," I feel you. This initial setup is a pain. And if you don't have a Premium account, all future two-step authentications you do (like on a new PC or mobile device) are a bit of a pain.
However, they're a one-time pain, and they vastly improve your Evernote security. So suck it up and get it done.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter (which is included in the Power Tips newsletter) e-mailed to you each week.