Best Two-Factor Authentication Software

10/17/2022

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One of the crucial things you should do on your end to combat fraudsters & prevent account takeovers is to enable two-factor authentication, or 2FA, on all of these online accounts.No matter how secure your password is, there will always be a way to compromise your online account and its information. Hackers may be able to discover your supposedly strong password using an innocent-looking email scam known as phishing.

However, by switching on 2FA, you enable multi-layer protection for your accounts, requiring a random auto-generated code that you receive via SMS, email, or authenticators for anyone attempting to access your account.The most straightforward approach to add a second security layer to protect your online presence from hackers is by using 2FA.

The top two-factor authentication applications for Android and iOS are listed below for you to download in order to protect your online accounts.

Google Authenticator

The highly popular Google Authenticator is presumably already known to anyone reading this essay. But we can’t discuss authenticator applications without discussing this one, and we may compare other programs to Google’s authenticator as a starting point.

Google Authenticator is generally a practical solution for individuals who would prefer not to deal with token synchronization across the cloud. Instead, the software can export all tokens made with it and create a single QR code to import them all at once to a different device. In contrast to the Android version, the iOS version recently made it possible to search tokens and secure app access with Touch ID or Face ID.

If you use Google Authenticator in public, it can be a problem that the generated codes cannot yet be hidden from view. The screenshots in this post are all from the iOS versions of the apps because all Android authenticators prohibit taking screenshots.

Pros:

  • No account needs to be set up
  • Protective Face ID/Touch ID for app access (iOS version only)
  • Simple user interface, few settings
  • Ability to simultaneously export and import all tokens
  • Search capability with token name (iOS version only)

Cons: 

  • No login security (Android version)
  • Unable to conceal codes
  • No cloud sync or backup
  • Greater potential risk if the unlocked app ends up in the wrong hands due to the simplicity of exporting tokens.

Microsoft Authenticator

Based purely on the developer’s reputation, many consumers searching for Google Authenticator alternatives choose Microsoft Authenticator. They’re somewhat justified because the Microsoft app adds a few helpful functions on top of the standard set. For instance, both the iOS and Android versions secure app logins, and it may hide codes on the screen and save tokens in the cloud. If you frequently work with Microsoft accounts, Microsoft Authenticator is particularly useful because you may confirm login by tapping a button in the app rather than entering a code.

First off, there is no other means to transfer tokens because the cloud backup systems used by the Android and iOS apps are utterly incompatible. That would be a deal-breaker for users of devices with various operating systems. Second, Microsoft Authenticator requires between 150MB and 200MB of storage space as opposed to 15MB to 20MB for Google Authenticator.

Pros:

  • Access controlled by PIN, fingerprint, or Face ID
  • Cloud sync/backup
  • Conceals codes
  • No account is needed (as long as you keep cloud backup disabled),
  • Incredibly straightforward Microsoft account login
  • Backing for the Apple Watch (iOS version)

Cons:

  • For backup and sync, a Microsoft account login is required (Android version only)
  • iOS and Android’s backup/sync systems are incompatible
  • Being unable to import or export tokens
  • Large (needs 150MB–200MB) (requires 150MB–200MB)

Twilio Authy

The key benefit of Twilio Authy is its extensive cross-platform compatibility. All of the current operating systems are available for Authy, and the software syncs them easily. There is one drawback to such simplicity of access, though. The app’s interface differs from other authenticators and needs an account connected to your phone number to function.

It functions more like a collection of tabs than a list because it only shows the selected token at a time, hiding the others as small icons that you can move between at the bottom of the screen. That can be annoying if you have a lot of tokens. Tokens can be shown as a list in the desktop version but not in the mobile one.

Pros:

  • Access is controlled by PIN, fingerprint, or Face ID
  • Cloud sync/backup
  • All popular operating systems are available
  • Backing for the Apple Watch (iOS version)
  • Ability to conduct token searches

Cons:

  • Need a phone number-linked account
  • Only ever shows one token at a time
  • The difficulty of finding tokens
  • Inability to conceal the code of the current token
  • Not being able to import and export tokens

Cisco Duo Mobile

One of the first authenticator apps was Duo Mobile, which Cisco purchased in 2018. A straightforward, user-friendly interface is its key benefit. Duo Mobile does not require an account and also obscures codes from view. Other crucial functions are absent from the software, most notably access protection, which neither the iOS nor the Android versions have.

Here are screenshots of both the iOS and Android versions of Cisco Duo Mobile because the Android version of the app allows users to “Temporarily allow screenshots.”

Duo Mobile uses both Google Cloud on the Android operating system and iCloud on the iOS operating system for cloud backup. Because of this, users of smartphones do not need to register new Google or Apple accounts for the app to function.

However, there is no way to access a secret key or QR code for tokens that have already been saved, and users cannot sync data between the Android and iOS versions of the app (which could be helpful if you need to do a manual sync).

Pros:

  • Clear and intuitive UI
  • Capacity to conceal codes
  • No account needs to be set up
  • Cloud sync/backup
  • Support for Apple Watch (iOS version)

Cons:

  • Lack of access restriction
  • Unable to import or export tokens
  • iOS and Android backup/sync mechanisms that are incompatible

FreeOTP 

This open-source authenticator software was developed after Google’s closure of the Authenticator source code. Nothing extraneous is present on the FreeOTP interface, which is quite minimalist. This basic approach is particularly noticeable in the iOS version, which only supports QR-code scanning and doesn’t even offer the ability to create a token using a secret key. Both alternatives are still available in the Android version, providing a lot of freedom for manually creating tokens by letting users select the TOTP or HOTP generation type, the number of characters in the code, the methodology, and the refresh interval for the codes.

One drawback is that once you start using the program, you’re trapped with it because no version of it enables cloud sync or token export and import in the form of a file. Additionally, PINs and other methods of app access protection are not available in FreeOTP (in the iOS version, you can protect individual tokens with Touch ID or Face ID). However, the software automatically hides codes after 30 seconds of inactivity and does so by default. The last benefit of FreeOTP is that it uses very little storage space (between 2MB and 3MB) (by comparison, Google Authenticator requires 15MB–20MB, and Microsoft Authenticator takes up 150MB–200MB).

Pros:

  • No need to register
  • Easy interface
  • Concealed codes by default
  • Codes that are automatically hidden after 30 seconds
  • Minimum storage needed
  • Protection for tokens using Touch ID or Face ID (iOS version only)
  • Search capability with token name (iOS version)

Cons:

  • Inability to use a secret key to generate a token (iOS version; requires scanning a QR code)
  • Unable to import and export tokens
  • Failure to backup or sync
  • Inadequate access security

andOTP

The andOTP authenticator provides everything you might possibly need for convenient and safe token storage. For instance, andOTP’s features support tags and token name searches. It is also possible to connect a “panic button” so that you can completely reset the app and delete all tokens in an emergency.

Here is the Settings menu for andOTP, which bans screenshots on a screen with codes like all Android authenticators do.

Using the app, you can access your private key or QR code for each token separately. Additionally, you may store all of your tokens simultaneously in a secure Google Drive file, allowing you to export to a file or backup to the cloud with just one press.

A password or the fingerprint you use to sign in to your Android device can be used to protect app access. However, for increased protection, you can set up a unique PIN or even a lengthy password just for andOTP and force the app to lock after a certain amount of inactivity (which you define). This program is a geek’s paradise; there are still three or four additional settings screens.

Pros:

  • Access control using an app-set PIN or password, the OS login PIN or fingerprint, being able to see any token’s secret key or QR code
  • Ability to export all tokens simultaneously to a Google Drive encrypted file
  • Code-hiding
  • Codes are automatically hidden while the user is not active (after 5–60 seconds, configurable)
  • Automatic app lockdown when the user isn’t using it (after 10–360 seconds, configurable)
  • Flexible token search, employing tags that can be customized
  • Option to delete all tokens using the panic button
  • Numerous and adaptable environments

Cons:

  • Accessible only on Android
  • Retrieval of keys is simpler, which increases the possibility that the program will be misused once it is unlocked

OTP auth

We have excellent news for iPhone users who read the descriptions of andOTP above and began to feel envious of Android users: A cutting-edge authenticator app is also available for iOS. OTP auth’s developers recognize the issues faced by users that utilize 2FA across numerous services, which is why this program has a system of folders for managing token storage.

 Additionally, OTP authentication enables you to export every token at once to a file on your smartphone or examine the secret key or QR code for any token at any moment. Also supported by the app is iCloud sync.

Users can protect app login with Touch ID or Face ID, or use a separate password for OTP auth. We prefer the latter, given how easy exporting tokens from this app is. The capability to hide codes is the only useful feature that is lacking.

Pros:

  • Capacity to inspect any token’s secret key or QR code
  • Having the ability to export all tokens at once to a file
  • Backup/sync for iCloud
  • Folder mechanism for storing tokens in order
  • Apple Watch assistance
  • Setting up the code display format
  • Password or Touch ID/Face ID access control

Cons:

  • Only available on iOS and macOS (and only as a paid version for macOS)
  • Unable to conceal codes
  • Customizing icons is only accessible in the premium version
  • If the unlocked app ends up in the wrong hands, there is a higher potential risk due to how simple it is to retrieve the key

Step Two 

Step Two should be seriously considered if andOTP seems excessive and Twilio Authy’s sign-up requirement scares you away, but you still require an authenticator for iOS and macOS. The UI is simple; the iOS and macOS versions both have a Calculator app-like feel, which is pleasant in its own right.

Step Two offers a few options and capabilities. However, it does support iCloud sync to match its plain UI. Additionally, the desktop version supports reading QR codes using screen capture (which is a hazardous feature because it requires users to provide permission; in principle, it allows the program to view whatever they’re doing).

Pros:

  • No extraneous features
  • No account needs to be set up
  • Backup/sync for iCloud
  • Capacity to read QR codes (macOS version)
  • Apple Watch assistance
  • Token name search function

Cons:

  • Lack of access restriction
  • Doesn’t conceal codes
  • Unable to import and export tokens
  • In the free edition, there is a ten-token cap
  • Permission is required to scan a QR code for screen capture (macOS version)

WinAuth

WinAuth focuses exclusively on gamers. The app’s unique ability is its support for non-standard tokens for game authentication on Trion/Gamigo, Battle.net, and Steam. This program might be what you need if you’re seeking a substitute for Steam Guard, Battle.net Authenticator, or Glyph Authenticator/RIFT Mobile Authenticator.

One of the few Windows authenticator software is called WinAuth. Of course, the program also accepts common tokens, such as those for Guild Wars 2 and other NCSoft games, and others, such as those from Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other services. WinAuth requires a password for both account creation and token authentication. The program allows you to encrypt the data it keeps and exports and by default hides codes, including automatically.

Pros:

  • It can take the position of Battle.net Authenticator, Steam Guard, Glyph Authenticator, and RIFT Mobile Authenticator thanks to its support for non-standard tokens for gaming services.
  • Support for exporting tokens either as an encrypted archive or as a plaintext file
  • Concealed codes
  • Automatic code hiding
  • Access control using a password or YubiKey
  • Each token is furthermore password-protected
  • Portable, offering alternatives for cloud storage and flash drives
  • Encrypt data saved
  • Scan a QR code from a file (local or on the Internet)

Cons:

  • WinAuth needs your Steam username and password to create your Steam token
  • On a PC, it is generally not recommended to use a two-factor authentication app
  • No alternative operating system version
  • If the unlocked app ends up in the wrong hands, there is a higher potential risk due to how simple it is to retrieve the key

iOS and MacOS Built-in Authenticator

Every version of the iOS operating system for the iPhone since iOS 15 has a built-in 2FA one-time code generator. Go to Settings Passwords, choose an existing account or create a new one, and then touch Set Up Verification Code under Account Options to access it. The rest is standard procedure: You can scan the QR code or manually enter the secret key. You can scan the authenticator QR code directly from the camera app and add a token to an existing account in Passwords. Unfortunately, the option will not ask you to sign up for a new account.

In addition, macOS now supports built-in authenticators, especially in Safari versions 15 and beyond. Open Safari and select Safari Preferences Passwords from the menu at the top of the screen to find it. Tap Edit, choose an account (or tap + to add a new one), then tap Enter Setup Key in the pop-up window that appears (there is no QR code option here). If you have already created the tokens on an iPhone, they will immediately sync using iCloud, so you won’t need to activate them again on the ac.

The built-in iOS/macOS authenticator allows autofill in theory, but in fact it isn’t quite as seamless as it could be. With the code we were given, we conducted a brief test using a Twitter account and two-factor authentication. Mixed results were obtained: the system successfully filled in an authentication code when we logged in to the Twitter app, but when we attempted to do the same on the Twitter website in Safari, the code never appeared, regardless of whether we tried in iOS or macOS.

Pros:

  • Accessibility on all iPhones
  • No need to open a different account
  • The capability to directly add a token from the camera app (but only to an existing account; it will not work for creating a new one)
  • For one-time codes, autofill
  • Utilizing Touch ID or Face ID to access protection
  • iCloud sync and backup

Cons:

  • Location deep under the settings of iOS or Safari
  • Only one token at a time is displayed
  • Unable to conceal codes
  • Account password is displayed next to the code (iOS version)
  • Two-factor authentication’s tenets are violated by storing passwords and 2FA tokens together
  • Can’t import and export tokens

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Conclusion

Password protection, safe storage, and two-factor authentication are essential in mobile and web applications. There is always a probability that the user will experience security threats and information breaches as they participate in different online activities. A company’s success depends on its security, mainly using two-factor authentication passwords and how safely users may access data without risking unwanted access to sensitive data.

Consider your actual needs before choosing an authenticator app because free or low-cost software only offers basic features; therefore, a paid platform may be much more valuable if you require advanced tools. Furthermore, more advanced software can accommodate all needs, so be sure you have a solid concept of the capabilities you anticipate needing from your authenticator app.