Almost everything can now be found online, from your email and social media accounts to your entertainment and personal finances. However, this means that you most likely have many usernames and passwords, which can be difficult to remember.
Even if you use a single username and password combination for all your accounts (which is unlikely), it could still be compromised by brute force hacking, social engineering, or phishing. That’s why you should use a two-factor authentication (2FA) app.
But with so many options, which one should you use? Let’s find out the six best 2FA apps to secure your online accounts.
1. Google Authenticator
One of the most basic 2FA apps you can use is Google Authenticator. It is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, so it would work with almost any smartphone. This 2FA app is as simple as it gets. It lists your accounts on its homepage, with an animated pie chart showing how much time you have left until your code expires.
It’s also easy to set up: you don’t need to link it to a Google account to use it. There are two ways to add an account: by scanning a QR code or manually entering a setup key. You can also easily transfer your Google Authenticator codes from one device to another. This way, even if you buy a new phone, you can quickly transfer your one-time passwords in a minute or two.
To transfer your codes, you must go to Settings > Transfer Accounts > Export Accounts. After verifying your identity, select the accounts you want to export, tap Next, then you will see a QR code that you need to scan with the Google Authenticator app on your new phone. With this, you can transfer all your codes in less than a minute.
This is a very popular authenticator app, but there are plenty of alternatives to Google Authenticator.
2. Microsoft Authenticator
If you want a complete solution, you should choose Microsoft’s 2FA application. Although its main purpose is to provide you with one-time codes, it also works as a password, payment, address and ID manager. It also acts as an access key for Microsoft passwordless logins.
Microsoft Authenticator adds another layer of security by asking you to verify your identity via biometric security or a PIN each time you open it. You can back up your secure accounts to the cloud, so you can easily regain access to your one-time passwords even if you lose your phone.
The only downside to this service is that your passwords and one-time codes are stored in the same app. So if the Microsoft Authenticator app on your phone is compromised, your passwords and one-time codes are at risk.
3. LastPass Authenticator
If you use LastPass to manage your passwords, you should also consider using LastPass Authenticator. This 2FA app is similar to Google Authenticator in terms of simplicity but offers better security.
First, it has an app lock, ensuring that even if someone gains access to your phone, they can’t open the authenticator unless they have your PIN or biometrics. You can also use touch to reveal to make sure your codes are not displayed on the app homepage.
More importantly, the LastPass Authenticator app is separate from the LastPass Password Manager app. This way, even if one of them is compromised, there is still a barrier that ensures that your cybercriminals will have a harder time breaking into your accounts.
4. Twilio Authy Authenticator
Authenticators are usually only found on phones, as their main purpose is to act as a separate key to protect your accounts. Also, since we usually have our smartphones in our hands or pockets, it makes sense to have authenticators there.
However, if you’re the type of person who hides your phone while working, using a smartphone-only authenticator app is a big deal. Luckily, Authy thought about this problem and therefore made the Twilio Authy authenticator available on smartphones and computers. Whether you use an Android, iOS, Linux, Mac or Windows device, you will have access to your one-time use codes.
Authy, like Google Authenticator, is simple and easy to use. However, its main difference is that you can sync your Authy account with as many devices as you want, including your PC. So even if you don’t have your smartphone with you, you can still access your 2FA codes directly from your Linux, Mac or Windows PC.
5. iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey
If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, you can actually use Apple’s built-in password manager to store and generate your 2FA codes. Although it’s cumbersome to use because it’s buried deep in the Settings app, it takes advantage of Apple’s legendary security. It also syncs with your Mac through Safari.
So, if your Apple devices are running iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey, you don’t need a third-party app to do the job.
6. Second stage
Step two is another Apple-centric 2FA application. It is simple and intuitive to use and allows users to add up to 10 accounts for free. However, if you want to add more, you will need to make a one-time purchase.
Nonetheless, the main feature that sets this two-factor authentication app apart is its ability to work with your Apple Watch. This way, if you’re logging in on your Mac, you don’t have to pull out your iPhone to verify your one-time password (OTP). Just check your Apple Watch and you will know your OTP in a few clicks.
Protect your accounts with a 2FA application
Two-factor authentication is crucial for internet security. It adds another unique layer of protection to your device (or devices, if you sync your 2FA app across multiple phones and computers). So even if your username and password combination has been compromised, you can ensure that your unique one-time code stops unauthorized users.