Nintendo Switch two-factor security: How to turn it on (and why)

Eric Abent - Apr 20, 2020, 3:02 pm CDT
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Nintendo Switch two-factor security: How to turn it on (and why)

If you’re a Switch owner and you haven’t turned on two-factor authentication for your Nintendo account yet, you might want to do so. Having two-factor authentication turned on is a good idea regardless, but there are reports from Switch owners that unsavory types are attempting to log into their Nintendo accounts and potentially making purchases using saved payment information.

So reports Eurogamer, which notes that Switch owners around the world have been contending with these bogus login attempts. This has apparently been going on over the past several weeks, and it seems that many of the unauthorized login attempts are coming from the US, Chile, and Russia.

Regardless of where they’re coming from or how often they’re happening, it’s a good idea to turn on two-factor authentication and give yourself that extra layer of protection. The instructions for setting up 2FA were shared by Nintendo about a week and a half ago, and though it’s a multi-step process, it shouldn’t take Switch owners too long.

How to turn on two-factor authentication

First, you’ll want to head over to accounts.nintendo.com and log into your Nintendo account. From there, select “Sign-in and security settings” from the left-hand sidebar. It should be noted that in this menu, you can find your sign-in history, so it’s a good idea to check that and see if anyone has unauthorized access to your account. For now, click the “Edit” button next to “2-Step Verification settings.”

Click the red button that says “2-Step Verification setup” on the next page, then on the page after that, confirm that your email address is correct as displayed and click the “Verify” button. Head over to your email inbox and you should see an email from Nintendo that contains a verification code. Enter that code on the Nintendo Account page you just left and click “Submit.”

You’ll then be prompted to download the Google Authenticator app, which is what Nintendo uses for two-factor authentication; you can find it either on the Google Play Store [download] or the iOS App Store [download]. Once it’s downloaded, open the app, tap the “+” symbol in the upper right corner, and scan the QR code that appears on the Nintendo Account webpage. From there, enter the code that appears in your newly set up authenticatior, hit “Submit,” and you’re all done.

On the next page, you’ll see a collection of 8 backup codes that you can use to log into your Nintendo Account if you lose access to your device or Google Authenticator. Copy the codes and save them someplace safe, just in case you need them in the future.

Is two-factor authentication really necessary?

Once two-factor authentication is set up, you’ll need to enter both your password and the two-factor code from the Google Authenticator app. There’s no getting around it: that means logging in takes longer than it would with just a password alone, and it can be annoying to have to reach for your phone when you’re just trying to log into your Nintendo account.

With that out of the way, is two-factor authentication worth it? Absolutely. Two-factor authentication does have its flaws – particularly when 2FA codes are sent over SMS or email – but there’s no denying that app-based 2FA like this is much more secure than using a password alone. Two-factor authentication should ideally be used anytime it’s offered, but it’s especially important for accounts where personal or financial information is stored.

If you’re going to keep payment information linked to your Nintendo account to make buying things from the eShop faster, then you’re only putting yourself at risk by securing your account with just a password. Two-factor authentication can keep your account safe at a time where there seems to be an uptick in fraudulent login attempts, so follow the instructions above to get it setup if you haven’t already.


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