Enabling 2FA login

I came across this article on enabling two-factor-authentication for several accounts.

I noticed that not only are there several more services now offering 2FA than when I last checked a few months back. But once I set out to enable my accounts on these services I also noticed that several of them now supports apps in addition to SMS-messages.
And I’m also very glad that the apps are becoming more generic so I don’t need to have a mass of apps installed on my phone, but rather that it’s now possible to use for example Microsoft Authenticator not only for Microsofts own accounts but also for Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Amazon and others.

The article doesn’t mention Steam though, but I think it should. Steam is quite huge as platform and enabling 2FA was both easy and well worth it, considering the info stored there. And neither is Apple mentioned which is a little odd, but AppleID is also very smooth to enable for 2FA.

There are also some identity services missing in the article where maybe I should look more into their respective settings to see if they now support easy to use 2FA as well.

I’m thinking specifically of WordPress, Instagram, IMDb and Origin. And of course all the web shops where personal info is stored.

And lastly what I’d like to see now is support in Password Safe for PC and the pwSafe iOS app for tagging accounts with a green colour flag if they’re 2FA enabled.

The long chain of linked accounts

So Tech-Ed Europe posted on Facebook about their new conference app. That seemed interesting and I of course had to try it out, and so downloaded the app for IOS (seems it is available on Surface as well, that would be one of the few I’ve found that I might use, but I won’t drag the Surface with me with only that one app, anyway enough about that…).

And login failed… ? And I had to read the manual… 🙂 And discovered that I needed an EventBoard account, which could be linked to my Channel9 account, which I believe I created just to be able to create the Tech-Ed schedule, and was linked to my MSDN account which was linked to my Windows Live account, which in turn is linked to my company account.

In theory all this works well, even though I now have 5 different accounts (or maybe MSDN is just a profile, so 4 then ?), with 4 (or 5 ?) different passwords, (and some people wonder why I think the absence of a working Metro-release of Password Safe is bothering me), and all of this just to be able to attend a conference, know the schedule for the sessions I plan to attend, and have those show up in the conference app. Not the smoothest way to go, but as the linking is quite seamless once in place it’s fair enough.

Except that it doesn’t work! Since the schedule only shows up in the PC webbrowser and does not show up in the app…

Surface reflections

I’ve had my new Surface RT for nearly two weeks now and despite my best wishes to make it work I am about to give it up, as currently the feeling I get when trying to use it takes me back some 20 years to the early start of using Windows NT 3.1. Sure we ran the most secure PC of that time at the time of its release, but as we couldn’t run much more than Notepad there was little point to it, and the same goes here as OneNote, one of the few working apps, is really nice, but from functionality perspective I would compare it with a notebook app.

I won’t go as far as some friends (also testing Surface) suggested, as to donate it as a discus in the next Olympics, as for the time being it seems to serve well enough for children’s games, and I could sneak it in as a new toy for my daughters and re-conquer my two Windows 7 desktops…

There are several shortcomings as I see it but the overall greatest lack so far with the Surface is its lack of simplicity, user friendliness and total lack of apps.

It’s not going to compete with the iPad as long as it has no apps, and it will remain less than a normal PC since it can’t run standard x86/x64 applications either.

That sort of leaves it running OneNote, which is great but can quickly be replaced with other apps like Evernote (which incidentally takes less hassle to configure), running a few games, read some email and browse the web. All of these can be done on PC, iPhones and iPads as well, so there’s not really anything new.

The downside is the fight to get even the basic browsing to run.

– I have some 2600 favorites or bookmarks, of course not all are relevant, but I like to keep them for if (when) needed and have quite a big structure of groups to sort them into categories and use XMarks to sync them between PCs and between IE, Firefox and Chrome. (Sadly not Safari, but as most relevant sites comes as apps on iPad it’s no big problem anyway.) But Surface has neither favorites sync nor apps.

– I have about 170 websites using credentials, a few use tokens but most use user/password only. For a long time I used the same credentials everywhere but it became too high risk as it was a major task to change passwords everywhere if some site got compromised. So I use a password manager, in my case Password Safe, which works nicely on PC, iPad, iPhone and all other platforms I know except Surface. The lack of platform support makes it impossible to browse 95% of the sites as I don’t intend to manually type in 25 character long randomized passwords. And though I’ve found a competitor able to import Password Manager entries I’m not really keen in starting all over on all my devices simply for the sake of lacking password handling on the Surface.

So essentially it won’t do browsing either, beyond the most basic things like reading news and letting the kids browse the children’s channel on TV.

And it’s incredibly slow. Especially when browsing via Google Search, but IE is not directly lightning fast either. I assume I’m not supposed to browse the web via Google Search, but IE is so crippled it’s really of no use, it runs fullscreen and lacks all menues and favorites, and basically I prefer Google Search over Bing to get valid search results.

Then there’s also the general unfriendliness in getting stuff to work, like the Store, which for me at most shows 50 applications, total. And either there’s a serious lack of apps in the store, or it’s broken.

I suspect the latter, since searching for apps will turn up links pointing to the store which allows the apps to be installed while searching for the app inside the Store itself simply returns “no match” at in principle all searches.

At first I thought I had missed something and resorted to searching via IE and “Bing”, but again no matches whatsoever. But finally I found out that only searches via Google Search will return working apps from the MS Store. Microsofts own search engine does not. (Bing incidentally seems broken in other aspects too, as the Bingweather happily reports it to be raining while iPad weather and in fact a look out the window will tell you the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky).

So, after two weeks of frustrated searches, I’ve come up with Dropbox, Citrix, a feeble early-bird of XMarks clone and a competitor password manager (MetroPass for KeePass).
It’s quite a way yet to compete with the AppStore which basically attacks you with (more or less but frankly rather good) recommendations of new apps, and where searches mostly return what you’re looking for, and usually with some additional related suggestions as well. (MS Store on the other hand most often shows only apps like the “1000 Sexy Girls in HD” whenever browsing categories, and no apparent way of permanently blocking them either…)

So, right now it seems the Surface either goes onto the shelf a few months until the app portfolio is larger, my concern is whether the apps will be enough in time for them to make any difference before the hardware on the Surface is outdated? Which is why I’m simply considering swapping it to the kids to play with for a while.

That just needs another round in locking it down, especially the Store, as they’re 6 and 3 and I don’t want them purchasing random stuff on their own just yet, for a few years…

Sad really, but I’m no longer finding the constant challenge of getting basic OS to work as fun as it used to be, nowadays I prefer actually having some time to even use the devices rather than just installing them. For now it’s back to laptop and iPad. I’ll check again closer to Tech-Ed if at that time it might be worth bringing along for the testing of it.