While the digital age has made our lives easier, it has also opened the door to cyber threats and data breaches. Security has become a growing concern for everyone. And one of the best ways to add an extra layer of security to our accounts is to use a handy and trusty two-factor authentication app.
The feature has become pretty common now. And many popular apps like WhatsApp, Discord, and Google accounts, offer their versions of two-factor authentication (2FA). However, if you want just one app to manage it all, check out these best authenticator apps for iPhone and Android.
How Do Authenticator Apps Work and Is 2FA Protection Needed
When enabled, 2FA requires you to provide two different types of authentication when logging in to the account, a login ID plus password and a verification code generated by the authenticator app.
The authenticator app uses a time-based one-time password (TOTP) algorithm to generate a unique verification code. Since the code is valid for a limited time and can only be used once, it is much harder for hackers to gain access to your account.
Traditional passwords can be compromised easily, leaving accounts vulnerable to hacking and data breaches. However, with two-factor authentication, the attackers can’t access your accounts, even if they guess or get hold of your password (through spam or data breaches).
Thus, 2FA protection is highly recommended for any online account that contains sensitive information. With the increasing prevalence of data breaches and hacking attempts, this secondary layer of security is a simple and effective way to protect your data.
Best Authenticator Apps for iPhone and Android
1. Twilio Authy – Best Authenticator App for Multiple Devices
Authy is a feature-packed app. From sporting an easy-to-use interface to Apple Watch and widgets support, from offline support to automatic flushing of codes, it takes into account almost everything you’ll want from an authenticator app.
Additionally, Authy 2FA seamlessly integrates with any TOTP-based authenticator app, password managers, email services, cloud storage, and even cryptocurrency wallets. And that’s not it, the app also maintains a list of services it supports along with easy-to-follow, detailed instructions on how to enable 2FA for individual services.
Authy doesn’t compromise on the security aspect, in fact, it offers encrypted backups for free. So, you can store all your account data on the cloud and sync it across devices without any worry. The feature also ensures a smooth data recovery in case of device theft or moving to a new device.
Upon comparison to other apps like Microsoft Authenticator, Authy certainly takes the lead in the feature department. However, many users have just one complaint with it, Authy demands your email ID and phone number, even if you want to skip the backup feature. If that doesn’t bother you, congratulations, you’ve just been introduced to a very worthy authenticator app.
- Multi-device support.
- Packed with great features.
- All backups are encrypted.
- Supports a multitude of apps and services.
- Requires personal information for sign-up.
2. Google Authenticator – Most Easy-to-Use Authenticator App
Google has been one of the firsts in the field and is still a reliable option. The app maintains a straightforward and intuitive UI, making it accessible to users of all technical abilities. For instance, you can set up the authenticator codes via QR codes.
Moreover, it offers support for multiple accounts, so, users can secure all of their online accounts with the app. In addition to integration with Google services, the app is also o compatible with third-party services that support the TOTP algorithm, like Dropbox, Amazon, and Facebook.
Another benefit of Google Authenticator is that it syncs the codes with your Google Account, across all your devices. So, you’re safe even if you lose your phone. And if you’re switching phones, you can easily move the Google Authenticator account by scanning a QR code.
However, the app doesn’t boost some of the more advanced features like its competitors, so that can be a little disappointing for some. But overall, if you are hunting for a simple, no-nonsense, and secure authenticator app, then Google Authenticator is a great bet.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Supports a wide range of accounts.
- Seamless integration with Google services.
- Lacks some advanced features available in other authenticator apps.
Note: If you’re an iPhone user iCloud Keychain is also a great free, secure, and Apple-backed two-factor authenticator that you can try out.
3. Microsoft Authenticator – A Multifaceted 2FA Authenticator App
Microsoft is another big contender in the race for great authenticator apps. Available on both iOS and Android, it is actually a 4-in-1 app. Firstly, a multi-factor authenticator, after your password, enter the TOTP or the notification sent to the app.
You can use this app for all your Microsoft and third-party apps and services. Secondly, go passwordless for your Microsoft account, after your password, tap the notification sent on the app and approve it via your fingerprint, face ID, or PIN.
Next up, the app can autofill your passwords for websites and apps. Just sign in with your Microsoft account, sync passwords, and enjoy. Finally (fourthly), it allows certificate-based authentication for business accounts, i.e., registering as a trusted device.
So, instead of using a password and OTP, the source server automatically checks the device’s certification and logs you in. And though it offers more features than Google, it loses points in the UI department. Like most Microsoft apps, this one is unnecessarily complicated and boasts a learning curve.
- Autofill compatible.
- Supports certificate-based authentication (only for businesses account).
- Lock the authenticator app with biometrics.
- The interface is a bit overwhelming.
4. LastPass Authenticator – Cool Customizable Options
From the house of one of the best password managers LastPass, comes a pretty decent authenticator app for iOS and Android. Everything from its UI to its features all are designed to lend you a comfortable experience.
Starting with its compatibility, along with TOTPs, LastPass also supports push notification–based verification for popular apps like Facebook, Google, Evernote, and Amazon. Furthermore, the app allows you to manage the code timings, i.e., you can extend or reduce the validity time of the code.
Another advantage of LastPass Authenticator is its cloud backup feature. It automatically backs up users’ accounts to the LastPass vault, allowing them to recover details if they lose their device or get a new one.
Apart from that, the app offers seamless integration with password managers like LastPass and 1Password. And though it’s not as feature-rich as other apps like Authy, the features it boasts are quite exclusive and easy to use.
- Intuitive interface.
- Exclusive customizable features.
- Compatible with other TOTP-compatible services and apps.
- Handy cloud backup feature.
- Some features are missing.
5. Duo Mobile – Best Authenticator App for Enterprise Users
Developed by Cisco Systems, Duo Mobile is as secure as they come. Duo Mobile offers two-factor authentication through TOTPs, push notifications, and SMS. Although, the app’s standout feature is its ease of use and intuitive UI, making it an ideal choice for non-technical users.
Moreover, it integrates with Duo Security’s, an enterprise-grade security platform, lending additional security features such as device management and user authentication. There’s also a self-enrollment feature that allows users to easily add their accounts without requiring assistance from their IT department.
Remarkably, Duo Mobile also supports multiple accounts, so users can manage all their accounts from one place. Additionally, the app offers a feature called Duo Restore, which allows users to securely transfer their accounts to a new device.
One potential drawback of Duo Mobile is its limited compatibility with non-enterprise services. While the app can be used with some popular consumer services such as Google and Facebook, it may not work with other services that do not support Duo Mobile.
- Supports authentication via codes, push notifications, and SMS.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Employs enterprise-grade security.
- Not compatible with a lot of services and devices.
FAQs About Authenticator Apps for iPhone and Android Devices
Yes, for starters if you lose your device and somehow can’t access the backup, you might be temporarily locked out of your accounts. Secondly, if the 2FA app’s security is compromised, and though rare, it is a possibility, so do keep an ear to the ground for such incidence or news. Also, remember not to share your 2FA code with anyone, even if they claim to be a legitimate source.
All of the authenticator apps listed above are secure and offer a high level of protection for your online accounts. The safest authenticator app is the one that you feel most comfortable using.
This is an important step for whichever authenticator app you’re using. It ensures that you can always access your accounts, even if you lose your device or cannot use your authenticator app for any reason. For help follow this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to backup 2FA codes.
Keep Your Accounts Secure With an Authenticator App
The problem with passwords is that easy ones can be guessed easily and complex ones, we can forget. A wise solution is to keep a moderately difficult password (definitely more complex than 123 or ABCD) and employ a 2FA app.
You can surely choose Twilio Authy for the versatility it offers or pick Microsoft Authenticator to avail of autofill privileges. But if you want the simplest of authenticator apps, then pick Google. Do let us know your choice in the comments section below.
Last updated on 13 May, 2023
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