We have always advised our readers to invest in a password manager while setting up a new phone. People use weak or repeated passwords across different services, and here is where they exploit themselves to potential data theft.
Companies like Google and Apple have been offering an extra layer of protection to secure your account. One can add a mobile number verification, use their Android phone to verify the account or use the temporary OTP from the two-factor authentication apps.
So, what exactly are these apps? How do they work? Let’s talk about them first. Almost every popular service lets you set up the two-factor authentication from the settings. It will generate a random set of numbers which will be asked on service after typing the password. It adds a further layer of protection to keep your account safe.
The app stores offer many two-factor authentication apps. So we have compiled the top five such two-factor authentication apps for iPhone and Android. Let’s jump in.
1. Google Authenticator
Google offers an authenticator app on Android and iOS. The company has been encouraging the user to opt-for device prompts to verify the details, but that trick only works with Android and not on iOS.
The setup is simple, enter a manual code or scan the QR code from the desktop screen and you are ready to go.
The app uses 2.0 on both platforms and a hamburger menu for extra functions.
My only problem with Google Authenticator is, it doesn’t send a notification to approve or deny a request from the notification panel itself.
Microsoft is offering a similar app-driven service like Google. Apart from being available on mobile platforms, the app also supports Apple Watch.
Setting up the app is simple. Either scan a QR code or enter the code manually to set the service up. Once you are in, the app displays the code with a timer, and you can either hide the code or simply copy it.
The company is using the same design language across the platforms. To login into Microsoft account, the authenticator app sends a notification and you can simply allow or deny the request without even opening the app.
While both Microsoft and Google offer a robust 2FA app, both are filled with one major flaw. Let’s say you have changed your device or your phone is stolen, and neither Google nor Microsoft provides (it does on iOS but not on Android) a function to migrate data from one device to another.
In such cases, you will have to set up the 2FA from scratch to access the functionality. And that is why the two upcoming apps in the list are favored by majority out there including myself.
Authy is a gold standard in 2FA apps. Upon the startup, you will be asked to enter the mobile number, which will be linked to the service and is usable across various devices for secure login.
After that, you can add a master password which you must remember without fail under any circumstances. It will be used to verify your account among the devices. The remaining process is straight-forward. Add a manual code from the security settings of the website or scan a QR code.
As you continue to add new accounts to the service, the details will synchronize with the Authy servers. The company claims that those servers are as secure as the ones used by NSA and Banks.
When setting up the new device, you will need to enter the mobile number and master password to decrypt the data. And after that, all your added accounts will appear the same way as you left them on the previous device.
If you are someone frequently switching between the devices, then I strongly suggest you go with Authy for the hassle-free and seamless setup. Plus, it’s completely free to use. What’s not to like?
It would be natural for a password manager to offer a secure service like 2FA app. And LastPass is right out there in the race to provide a compelling 2FA app on both platforms.
First, you need to be a LastPass user to utilize the app to the full potential. The added data syncs with the LastPass servers. And when you set up the new device, you will need the LastPass account to restore the data.
The app also supports Face ID/Fingerprint authentication, which adds a fresh layer of security as well.
2FA keeps things simple. It’s similar to Google and Microsoft, but if you want to live out of Google and Microsoft’s shadow, then go for this one. The app doesn’t offer backup/restore service, and neither it uses any Face ID authentication, but it does the basics right and gets the job done.
As you can see from the above list, every app can fill-in as your extra layer of security. Google and Microsoft offer a robust option while Authy and LastPass go ahead with extra functions such as seamless data transfer and biometrics.
Next up: Apple offers iCloud keychain as a reliable password vault for iPhone and macOS. What will happen when we pitch it against the mighty LastPass. Read the post below to find out more.