Two-factor authentication apps
These are our picks of authentication apps you could use to protect your information.
Gone are the days where a username and password alone can protect your accounts online. A lot of these services contain private information about us that we cannot afford getting into the wrong hands. It’s gotten easier for hackers or even people you know to guess what your passwords are, which in some cases are not that secure to begin with.
This is why two-factor authentication (2FA) is so imperative. 2FA means you have to put in another one-time code sent to you in real-time after a password, thereby giving you an additional layer of protection.
There are various ways you can get these codes sent to you, such as SMS, email, or authentication apps. We strongly recommend you avoid using SMS due to the number of SIM cards being easily accessible to others, especially in South Africa. If you tend to leave your PC or laptop with your email tabs open, we also don’t recommend using email.
Here are our picks of authentication apps you could use:
Available to both Android and iPhone users, the Google Authenticator app is widely used globally, with over 50-million downloads on the Play Store alone. It works with a lot of popular services and is a great choice that can be used with your Gmail address. It also generates codes when you don’t have a connection, in offline mode. Some services allow you to add your accounts to Google Authenticator with a QR Code so it will require permission to use your camera. It is tied to a single device, but if you get a new handset, you can transfer by scanning a QR Code.
Another popular choice – and my personal preference – is Authy. It is simple to set-up, has a clean interface with biometric logins. What makes it different to Google Authenticator is multi-device support and additional security like encrypted back-ups. You can generate 2FA codes from an Android, iOS, Windows, Apple Watch or your desktop, however, it is an optional feature if you’d rather stick to one device. All your linked accounts on Authy are saved with the logo for each service, which makes it easy to get into, as needed. All codes generated expires within 30 seconds. If you prefer clean and simple apps, Authy is the one.
You may be familiar with LastPass as a password management service, which is its primary function, and it’s a 2FA app second. Apart from generating and saving secure passwords, LastPass Authenticator will also take care of 2FA, making it a convenient choice. It offers you the choice of 6-digit generated codes, SMS codes or automated push notifications for one-tap logins for sites like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. It is available on iOS, Android and the Windows Store. It uses an email to login, vs. requiring a SIM number for Authy.
It all comes down to personal preference but ultimately, you wouldn’t want your credentials for any service getting into the wrong hands.
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