2-factor authentication and twitter

I’ve had two factor for gmail enabled for two years.  This morning, I set up two factor for github and some others due to Heartbleed (check if sites you use are affected), Then there was Twitter.  After the other sites being straightforward, I expected the same from Twitter.  Twitter did not deliver.  I had to turn off two factor.  I’m left with secure my password and hope I notice if someone logs into my account.  (I think my friends would tell me about bad direct messages)

How to enable on a mobile device

  1. Install the official twitter app on my iPad
  2. Follow the menus described here
  3. Write down the backup code
  4. I logged off in a browser and re-logged in.
  5. Then I went to the twitter app and approved my login under settings.

And if it ended here, all would be fine.

Adding a phone number

I thought about adding a phone number as another option.  Don’t bother.  They are mutually exclusive.

Apparently they are mutually exclusive.  I cancelled the phone number sign up process part way through due to usability issues.  (Twitter wants you to text GO to 40404.  I don’t know how to do that on my BlackBerry.  I know how to reply to texts and text real numbers.  And I don’t want to lookup how to do it since I likely never will again.)

Anyway, when I clicked cancel on the process, it had already turned off my iPad option so I had to set it up again.  Grumble.

The BlackBerry app

Once I had two factor turned on, I was no longer able to logon to Twitter using the BlackBerry app.  A quick search online says I’m not the only one with this problem and the BlackBerry app just plain doesn’t support it.  Which means I can’t use two factor for Twitter.

enabling more two factor – paypal, dropbox, linked in and yahoo

I’ve had two factor for gmail enabled for two years.  This morning, I set up two factor for github.  Due to Heartbleed (check if sites you use are affected), I checked who else permits two factor to revisit what I should turn on.  Twitter has it’s own post because it didn’t go smoothly like the others did.

I had originally decided not to turn on two factor for sites that don’t provide an app as I prefer not to get texts.  However, I notice they only text you when you log in from a new device.  And I get enough junk texts by now that this is a rounding error.


I have a paypal account but hardly use it.  It was so secure that I didn’t even know my main password.

  1. Go to this page.
  2. Choose the option to use a mobile number (vs a $30 device)
  3. Enter your phone number
  4. Enter the code sent via a text to prove you control that phone number.  Do so quickly.  The code expires in 5 minutes.


Dropbox was similar to github.  It uses Google Authenticator plus a backup phone code and backup text string.  The only annoyance was that I had trouble scanning the QR code.  I had to drag the browser to my second screen (which is larger so has better resolution.)

Dropbox didn’t make me re-connect my existing sessions.  I left them alone because I don’t want to sync all that data again.  Presumably two factor will protect me against anyone else using my login.

Linked in

  1. Go to the security page,
  2. Click Turn on for two factor
  3. Enter your phone number
  4. Enter the code sent via a text to prove you control that phone number

Yahoo mail

I hadn’t secured yahoo because I use it as my “backup” email provider.  Why not though.

  1. Go to this page.
  2. Enter your phone numbe
  3. Enter the “six digit” code sent via a text to prove you control that phone number.  (My “six digit” code was five digits.  I guess they are counting invisible leading zeros)

find friends in social networking without a password

I’ve always been concerned about the whole “give us your e-mail password and we will tell you which of your friends are registered on our service” thing on social networking sites.  To the point that I refuse to give out the password.  If I give out my password, the sites can do whatever they want with it.  Surely there is a better way!

While I’ve been reading about open standards for such things, today was the first day I actually saw it in practice.  I registered for GoodReads this week.  When clicking on find friends, you see the usual – click yahoo/hotmail/gmail/AOL/facebook/twitter/plaxo.  When clicking you have the option to type your password.  For some, you have an alternate choice.  Marked as “new”.  This alternate choice actually looks secure.

Summary of providers

Provider Allows providing password to glean contacts Comments on Non-password access to glean contacts
Yahoo Yes Worked well – similar to google as described below
Hotmail Yes Allows, but don’t have a hotmail account so untried
Gmail Yes Worked great; see below
AOL Yes No access
Facebook No Allows, but didn’t try.  I have to allow GoodReads access to write on my wall not just see contacts and didn’t want to go through the remove process at Facebook.
Twitter Yes Have to temporarily allow more access, but easy to revoke after from twitter’s connections page.
Plaxo No Not sure.  Plaxo wasn’t clear enough about what information they would be getting so I didn’t say ok.

Walking through gmail

  1. Click “Or: sign in directly on Gmail. (new)”
  2. Takes to page at a GOOGLE URL saying “The site www.goodreads.com is requesting access to your Google Account for the product(s) listed below.  Google Contacts
  3. Choose “grant access”
  4. [do stuff on GoodReads]
  5. Optional which I did because I only want to grant one time access – remove GoodReads from accessing my contacts list:
    1. Go to Google Accounts
    2. Click “change authorized websites”
    3. Click “revoke access”

The good

I am giving google my password.  Google already has my gmail password and is just checking it is correct.  I’m not passing it through GoodReads.  Google is also telling me specifically what information they are letting GoodReads see.

The bad

Just because I e-mailed someone once and they are in my Google contact list doesn’t mean I know them.  I also have to trust GoodReads won’t spam all my contacts.  Both of these problems exist with the old “give me your password” method.  I’m willing to accept both of these on a reputable site and not willing to provide a password.  So great progress.