Do you know using authenticator apps is a better way of securing your accounts from security threats and breaches? Conventional passwords provide poor security to online accounts mainly because of unsafe password practices. Most people often use short or weak passwords that are easy to remember or guess. Another common practice is to set up the same password for multiple accounts. Even long and complex passwords are vulnerable to security threats, such as phishing attacks that can trick you into providing your credentials. Malware can also steal your login credentials from unsecured websites.
That indicates that passwords alone are insufficient to provide the necessary security online. It also implies the importance of creating layers of protection so that if one protection fails, another can stop the attack. The two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is one of the effective ways to add more protection to a website or an app.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication (2FA), often known as two-step verification or dual-factor authentication, adds an extra layer of protection to a website or an online account. It requires two different credentials or authentication factors to verify the user. For instance, after entering the password (the first credential), you might receive an access code (second credential) via text or email that you have to enter to access an account or a website.
According to a previous study by Microsoft, 2FA can block about 99.9% of account attacks. Although it effectively blocks hackers, not every website or app has it. That is where the authenticator apps enter the scenario.
What are Authenticator Apps?
An authenticator app adds an extra security layer with 2FA to the accounts you want to protect. Upon setting up your account for 2FA, you will get a secret key that you will enter to set up a secure connection between your account and the authenticator app. After this, the app will generate a code comprising 6-8 digits that you will need to log into your account.
Authenticator apps guarantee more security since they constantly generate new and temporary access codes. If a hacker has your password, he would not be able to log in unless he has the access code. Furthermore, because these codes change continuously, it is nearly impossible to crack them before a new one generates. That means for someone to access your protected account, they must have your password and have to access your phone in a short time frame.
Some of the top authenticator apps include Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Duo Mobile, LastPass Authenticator, and Twilio Authy.
What can you protect with an authenticator app?
You can use authenticator apps to secure any application compatible with 2FA, such as several social media sites. You can protect your accounts that contain your payment information or banking credentials. Therefore, you can activate your 2FA account for banking, shopping, food delivery, subscription streaming, or app store (Google Play or the Apple App Store) accounts.
Nowadays, many companies, such as banks, have started integrating their own 2FA tools into their apps to ensure more security and keep your data safe by avoiding relying on other third-party apps. However, many apps still rely on third-party authenticator apps for protection.
Are Authenticator Apps Safe?
Similar to all other security software, authenticator apps have their vulnerabilities. For example, some apps may still not require biometric locks or passcodes to access them, leaving them open for anyone who accesses the user’s phone. However, these apps are still crucial as a part of security plans with other tools. Also, these are still more secure than many other substitutes. You can enhance the security of these apps by following safe security practices.
What to look for in an authenticator app?
Are you looking for the right authenticator app and not sure what to consider while choosing? Following are some factors to consider when choosing the right authenticator app for yourself.
- Compatibility: You must ensure that the authenticator tool you choose is compatible with the platforms you use the most. Some apps are compatible with multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile, while others work only for specific platforms.
- Account Limits: It is also essential to know the number of accounts the app can manage for free. For instance, some authenticators, such as Google Authenticator, can protect an unlimited number of accounts, whereas others may require a subscription to secure a certain number of accounts.
- Multiple Devices: You can install some apps on more than one device, while some may require a subscription for installation on more than one phone or any other device.
- Code Delivery: These apps deliver authentication codes via email, SMS, QR codes, or push notifications. The least secure way is to send via SMS since it involves the risks of spoofing, interception, and phishing. You can choose the app according to what you prefer as the code delivery method.
- Backup: Some authenticator apps such as Authy allow users to back up their security keys for each account. They do it via cloud storage or printing or storing them at a secure place. Others, such as Google Authenticator, do not allow it due to the belief that generating backup may result in vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity threats and security breaches have become a chief problem in today’s world, and a password alone cannot protect your online accounts. Authentication apps are one of the best options to make your accounts more secure. However, you should consider some factors before choosing the most suitable for yourself.
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Last Modified: August 2, 2023 at 7:05 am