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by Ray Carlson

Q. My email account was hacked leading to losing some of my information and sending requests for money to some of my business associates. How can I avoid this happening again?

A. Several companies offering password protected email have added an option called two-step verification. You can set up the account to specify a step beyond a password that needs to be completed to access the account. The choices vary according to your email provider, but most involve sending a text message to your phone or using an app on your phone that generates a code. That code is entered after the password.

For example, with Gmail, click on your name in the upper right corner. Next click on "Account" in the box that opens. Under "Signing In," click on "2 Step Verification" and then on "Start Setup." You will need to resubmit your regular password and then select or enter a smart phone number. Next you indicate whether you want to receive a code number by text or voice. After you receive and enter the code for the first time, you can indicate any computers where you do not want to use the 2 step verification.

For example, you can limit the process to laptops or tablets you take out of your home. You can download an app to your phone that will generate a code if you do not have telephone service. You can also add a second phone number in case your primary phone is not available. Finally, you are offered the option to download a backup code to use instead of the app if you cannot get or don't want to pay the cost of phone service.

The process includes lots of options to adapt the verification process to your situation. The primary goal, though, is to make it too challenging for a hacker to bother trying to access your account.

Published: Courier 2/28/15 - Page 11A