How to Enable 2FA on Zoom Using Your Favorite 2FA App.
The popular and controversial video conferencing app Zoom has recently added a new security feature. It was announced a few days ago that Zoom desktop and mobile devices now support two-factor sign-in. This is great news for both casual users and administrators looking to keep hackers at bay. The question is, how do I add or enable 2FA in Zoom? The process is not as intuitive as it should be.
Note that there are a number of 2FA apps available for both desktop and mobile platforms, and choosing one of them can be challenging. We’ll talk about which one to use and why? But before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at what two-factor authentication is, and how it works, and why you should care.
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What is 2FA
You will need an ID and password to log into your Zoom account. This is true for any other application or service. The identifier is usually your email address or mobile phone number, followed by a password. There have been numerous cases where login credentials have been compromised by the thousands. Here I would like to mention this helpful site that can help you find out if your login details are being pledged.
What 2FA does is that it adds an extra layer / step of login requirement, which instantly makes it much more difficult for a hacker to log into your account. Now, when a hacker uses your account details to log in, he / she / they will need to enter a 6-digit unique code that is generated in real time. They won’t have it because it is generated through the 2FA app installed on your phone. It can also be sent to your mobile number via SMS, but this is not recommended.
2FA code generated by an app like Google Authenticator is much safer as the data is localized and encrypted. This means that it is never transmitted to the Internet, stored locally in your phone’s memory, or encrypted. The latter part ensures that even if your phone is jailbroken, hackers cannot view the codes.
And it doesn’t cost anything.
Now that you know why you need two-factor authentication and how it works, let’s take a look at some of the best two-factor authentication apps you can use to customize Zoom.
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Enable 2FA in Zoom
Google Authenticator, one of the most popular 2FA apps, is free, secure and includes features like Transfer Account, where you can transfer all your codes to your new phone if you buy a new one.
That’s the problem. Zoom says you will find the 2FA option under Advanced Security, but in my case it was hidden under the Profile tab.
Once you find it, the steps are simple. Click “Enable” on the right side of the screen. You will be prompted to enter your password again for security purposes. This is also true if you want to disable 2FA. The problem occurs when you do not know your password because you used Google or Facebook to login. I tried to use the “Forgot Password” option to generate a new password, but that didn’t work either. A quick search on Twitter revealed that there are other users facing similar problems. Apparently, without entering a password, there is no way to enable 2FA. They didn’t think it through. I’ve reached out to Zoom for an answer and will update it when I receive it.
Click “Install” on the next screen to start the process. Again, I suggest you choose the Authenticator app over SMS, because the latter is not that secure due to the many SIM swap attacks popping up over the past few years.
Enter the password again. You will now be shown a QR code. Scan it with your favorite 2FA app. I’ll be using Google Authenticator for the purposes of this tutorial, but you can use any name as long as it’s a trusted name. Some notable options are Authy and Microsoft Authenticator. Download and install the app and you should notice an option (usually a + sign) to scan for new QR codes. There are also apps for Windows and macOS, but I recommend a mobile app so you can access it on the go and anywhere.
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The moment you scan the QR code, you should hear a confirmation sound in your app, and the 6-digit code should be visible with a 30-second timer next to it. The code will change / expire automatically every 30 seconds for security reasons, making it much harder for hackers to access your account. Please note that 2FA codes will continue to be generated even if you are not connected to the Internet.
Click Next under the QR code when everything looks like above on your phone screen.
Enter the two-factor authentication code that you see in your two-factor authentication app on your phone next to it to confirm that you scanned the QR code and that it is working correctly. Click Submit.
You will now see a bunch of new codes on the screen. These are backup or restore codes that you should keep in a safe place. Offline preferably. I suggest you make a printout, which is the most recommended method. Below you will find print and download options. You can use them to login if the 2FA codes don’t work or if you’ve lost / stolen / broken your phone.
When done, click Done.
Return to the same menu to disable the 2FA code option. A new QR code as well as backup codes are generated every time you turn this option off and on. This means that you should disable / enable 2FA if you believe your codes have been compromised. You can also create backup / recovery codes in case you lose access to print paper, but I suggest you restore a new set using the method above.
Another way to make a backup is to take a screenshot of the QR code itself and print it. This way, you can re-scan the code at any time in any 2FA app installed on any phone. Make sure you pin these printouts.
Download Google Authenticator: Android | iOS
Convolution: Enable 2FA in zoom
The steps to enable 2FA on Zoom are pretty simple, however, only when you use a password to login. Most users have created an account with Google or some other login option, which only complicates the problem. I wish it were easier than all the Zoom stuff. The reason it became popular during the pandemic was because of its simplicity. It just worked out of the box. I ran into this issue on some other platforms as well, but the forgotten password trick worked every time.
Stay tuned for updates and keep zooming in.