Just last week I wrote about the tough time I was having with my PlayStation account. To make a long story short, someone added a PS Vita to my account, and proceeded to use my PayPal account to buy games. What happened after that was a bit of a mess, but the important takeaway from the experience was that there’s an easy way to secure accounts in 2016. It’s called two-factor authentication, and it’s finally coming to PlayStation.
If you’ve never used two-factor authentication before, it works just like it sounds. When you log into an account, you provide a username and password, and then use another device, usually a smartphone, to generate a code that’s shared between the second factor and the server. The code is like a second password that is created when needed, and usually expires within a minute or two. In order to access your account, an intruder needs both something you know, and something you have.
The feature’s impending deployment was noticed when PS3 users entered their password incorrectly after the latest update. There’s now a note on the error dialogue that mentions what Sony is calling two-step verification. It also mentions a device setup password, and it invites users to check their mobile phones for a text message. PlayStation already has iOS and Android apps, but text messages are much easier for the user. It also means if someone else tries to use your account, a text message will alert you.
PlayStation Network joins most of the other major gaming networks, including Steam, Xbox Live, and Origin, in enabling some form of two-factor authentication. Probably well timed, too, considering the network has suffered a number of major disruptions and security breaches in the last few years.
Related: After hackers ran up a bill on my PlayStation account, Sony held it ransom
While we still don’t know when the feature will be available, we’ve reached out to PlayStation for comment and will update if we hear back. In the meantime, the best way to protect your precious gaming accounts is to frequently change passwords and use whatever security features are available to you. You could lose a lot more than your progress in Stardew Valley.