Google allows its users to add an extra level of security for their accounts, via 2-Factor-Authentication (2FA). With this option enabled, users have to authenticate themselves through a different channel, in addition to providing the account password, in order to gain access to the account.
The second level of authentication may be done via SMS OTP, Google Authenticator app, or a USB Security Key. Many users might prefer to use the USB Key for this purpose, because it’s hardware-based, faster and more secure compared to the other options. Also, it seems kinda cool to be able to unlock your account by plugging in a USB key.
Many companies issue hardware products built specifically for this purpose. Such USB devices are usually based on the FIDO U2F standards and are compatible with any website or service which use the same standards for 2FA.
For example, YubiKey is one such popular device that can be used to authenticate yourself on Google and other services that support the FIDO U2F standards. To unlock your Google account via 2FA, you just need to plug in the device to your compute, and press the physical button at the back of the device when asked, in order to login to your account.
But if you are a cryptocurrency holder who uses a hardware HD wallet like Ledger, you could also use the same hardware wallet as a USB Security Key for 2FA, instead of using a dedicated device such as YubiKey.
This article explores how you can set up your Ledger Wallet as a USB Key for unlocking your Google account using 2FA. But the same method holds true for setting up USB Key-based 2FA for other FIDO U2F supported services as well.
Configure Ledger Wallet as a USB Security Key
In order to set up your Ledger Wallet for 2FA, first you need to ensure that the FIDO U2F app is installed on your Ledger Nano S or Ledger Blue device. If not, follow the steps below to install the FIDO U2F app:
- Download and install the Ledger Manager Chrome app on your computer.
- Connect your Ledger Wallet to your computer and provide the Wallet Pin.
- Launch the Ledger Manager app and install the FIDO U2F app on your Ledger device.
Once installed, your Ledger device is ready to serve as a USB Security Key for your Google Account.
Set up Google Account with Ledger
Now, you need to set up your Google account in such a way that it can be unlocked by plugging in your Ledger Wallet device (or any USB Key). Follow the steps below to configure your account for 2-Step Verification via USB Security Key:
- Turn on 2-Step Verification for your Google account, if not already done.
- Connect your Ledger Wallet to your computer and provide the Wallet Pin to unlock it.
- Click on Add Security Key link from the available 2-Step-Verification options.
- Click Next on your computer and then open the FIDO U2F app on your Ledger device. You will get a prompt to authenticate yourself.
- Choose yes on the Ledger device. The device will now be configured to work with your Google account.
From now on, whenever you need to sign in to your Google Account from your computer, you need to plug in the Ledger Wallet, open the FIDO U2F app on the device, and confirm authentication from it.
Note: It is recommended to have a secondary 2-Step Verification option enabled, such as OTP or Google Authenticator, along with USB Security Key. This will allow you to use alternative methods for 2-Step Verification while logging in from browsers in which USB Security Keys are not supported (for example, Safari, mobile browsers, etc.).
Although this article is meant specifically for Ledger Wallet users, this workaround is also applicable for any other hardware HD wallets that supports FIDO U2F features.
Now that you know how to use your Ledger Wallet as a USB Security Key for 2FA, you no longer need to invest on a separate device. And for those of you who aren’t familiar what hardware HD wallets are all about, you can check out our dedicated article on the same.