Google Authenticator Almost Killed My Blog

photo credit: google.com
photo credit: google.com

I thought my next post would be a eulogy to my poor old blog that I couldn’t access anymore. I thought it had gone to cyberspace heaven at the hands of Google Authenticator.

Okay, okay, at my hands. I’m the idiot who didn’t print out my backup codes. I had set up Google Authenticator when my laptop wasn’t hooked up to a printer, and being lazy, I thought, “I’ll just print them later.” Well, I completely forgot and never printed those precious backup codes.

Fast forward several months. My iPhone started to crap out. The screen kept fading to black. It had been days since I’d logged into WordPress because I couldn’t see the verification code on my phone. I headed to the Apple store to get a replacement. I had everything backed up on iCloud. The rep assured me that all apps and data would transfer. I wasn’t even remotely alarmed about Google Authenticator until I got home.

I sat down at the computer to log in to my WordPress account. It shouldn’t be a problem. I would enter my handy-dandy verification code from Google Authenticator.  I was humming as I began typing. Login: check. {Hmm-hmm-hmmm} Password: check. {Hmmm-hmm-hmmm} Verification code…I glanced at the app on my phone. There was no verification code. {No longer humming} I started to panic.  Where was my verification code? The app indicated it needed to be set up. {Gasp!}

Most apps will transfer seamlessly to a new phone. Not Google Authenticator. It would defeat the purpose of the application. {Duh} It didn’t occur to me until it was too late. When the old phone was wiped clean at the Apple store, so was my ability to access the verification code to log in to WordPress. Holy Crap!

I scoured the internet for possible solutions. I visited the support forums for Google and WordPress. I couldn’t find a solution to my problem. There was no support number to call or e-mail. But wait, if I upgraded my WordPress account to a paid subscription I could get help. I get it. People can’t work for free. I gladly paid the fee, submitted a support request, and prayed that one of the Happiness Engineers could help me. In the meantime, I started to plan the eulogy for my old blog:

She was born in March 2013 {sniff}. After a brief life, she was called to cyber heaven {sniff}. I will miss her {sobbing}.

Since I’m posting this from my blog, you know how the story ends. There is a reason WordPress calls their support staff “Happiness Engineers” (Bless you, Rachel!). After confirming several pieces of information that only the author of my blog would know, my blog was revived. I am, once again, a happy WordPress blogger. And ironically, I had scheduled posts for the last week that ended with this morning’s Word of the Day post. Weird, huh? So it would seem, on the surface, I’ve never been away.

Here is a word of warning to those of you who use Google Authenticator as an extra security feature for your blog: PRINT THOSE BACKUP CODES!

Google Authenticator is a two-step authentication application that can be enabled as an extra layer of security for other applications. It generates random access codes every few seconds. When enabled with other applications, this randomly generated access code must be entered after the log in and password to gain entry into the application.  Visit http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-authenticator/ to learn more about Google Authenticator.

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11 thoughts on “Google Authenticator Almost Killed My Blog”

    1. Do you have Google Authenticator installed? If so, you have to go to your security settings and generate them. They should pop-up in a separate window where you can print them out. However, some internet browsers block the codes from appearing even when you turn off pop-up blocker, malware protection, etc. This was part of my issue. I had to login to WP from a different internet browser (Firefox) to finally get them.

        1. Firefox was just a browser I used to get the back-up codes. There was a conflict with my version of IE that prevented the window from being displayed. Authenticator is an extra layer of protection against hackers. To gain access to your account they would need your login, password and possession of your phone with the Authenticator app that generates the codes, so it makes it nearly impossible for someone to hack into your account. I was accustomed to the 2-step authentication process when I worked in the financial services industry and had to transfer large sums of $ between the corporation’s bank accounts. It’s a good idea if you use it correctly 🙂 In other words, don’t do what I did and disregard the backup measures.

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