Keeping Your Microsoft Account Safe With Two Factor Authentication.

Your Microsoft account encompasses a lot of important services you might be using if you work with a Windows 8 machine or any sort of Microsoft system. These can include the cloud storage medium SkyDrive, your Microsoft Outlook account and possibly your Xbox Live account if you have one. All of these accounts and services fall under the same umbrella as parts of your Microsoft Account and although you might have multiple Microsoft accounts set up, chances are all of the above are run under a single username and login password.

The bottom line is that if you’re using a number of the above services and depend on your Windows machine, Outlook and SkyDrive for the storage of your business, work and financial documents, as well as your personal communications, you really want to make sure that the contents of your Microsoft account are safe from hackers and other intruders.

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This is where Microsoft’s Two Step Verification comes into the picture. As a safety mechanism for your valuable personal information, it is absolutely invaluable.

Let’s cover the steps you need to take to activate it quickly and easily today.

Activating Two Step Verification in Two Easy Passes

Your first step is going to consist of going to the following link so you can get started with the activation process: account.live.com. This is where you can access your entire Microsoft Live account from in one single place.

Next, you’re going to log in with the details of the account you most want to protect (you might have more than one Live Account, as some people do).

Once you’ve logged in, look for "Security Info" on the left hand side of the browser window and click on it once you’ve found the menu item.

In the section you’ve just accessed, Microsoft is going to ask you for permission to send a security verification code to the mobile phone number you’ve registered with your Live account previously. If you haven’t yet registered any mobile number on any previous occasion, then they’ll send the verification code to the email connected with your Live account instead.

Pick whichever option applies to you and then click "Next". You’ve just done the first part of your Two Step Verification activation. You can now go check for the code either in your email or in your phone message inbox (depending on which option you had picked) and submit it to the screen that appears after you’d clicked "Next". Do this and click "Submit" and bingo, you’ve just accessed your Live account’s security settings area.

Here you’re going to actually set up Two Step Verification.

In your Security Settings area, look for the "Two Step Verification" menu item and click on it. Here, you’ll go through the process of connecting your account to your own mobile device number.

This is where things get a tiny bit complicated if you let them. As part of the Two Step setup process, Microsoft will at this point ask you if you’d like to go ahead and find a password authenticator application that you can download to your smart phone. These are available from assorted third parties like Authenitfy and the purpose of the app is to give you access to your own Two Step Verification even in places where you have no cellular signal but do have a working Wi Fi connection.

You don’t need to download a password authenticator app for your phone in order to use Microsoft’s Two Step security system. However if you’d like the additional safety and the ability to access your Live account even where you don’t have cell coverage (once you’ve got Two Step verification set up), you can follow the instructions for downloading an authenticator app to your phone and pairing it to your live account’s Two Step process.

If you’re not interested in downloading an authenticator app, simply click "Skip" to the whole process and go straight to the next step of setting up your Two Step security system.

This will basically consist of Microsoft sending a confirmation code to the mobile number you’ve given them and asking you to confirm it. Once you’ve done this, the system will also ask you for a default secondary contact system for in case you ever lose your phone and can’t use your Two Step Verification system to log in.

You can simply set the email address connected to your Live account as the contact option, submit it, wait for a verification code to be emailed your way (a few seconds later) and then submit it to the page you’re now on and click "Next" again.

There, you’ve now just set up Two Step Verification for your Live Account.

A Word On App Passwords

Once you’ve set up two step verification, you will still occasionally need to use your Live applications on devices that don’t support Microsoft’s Two Step Verification or use third party apps on your Windows devices. In both cases, your Two Step process might not work unless you’ve first set up specialized App passwords for each of these applications. There is a solution however, and you will be prompted to read about it as soon as you’ve set up all of the above on your Live account security page:

As far as those app passwords are concerned, this is what you need to read in order to cover this last part of a fully functional Two Step process for your Live account.

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