Security is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in the world of technology, especially given the rising prevalence of cyber-crimes and data-breaches. Whereas passwords used to be all you needed to ensure your details were secure, they now no longer cut the mustard. One way in which you can increase the security of your information is by using 2-step authentication such as Google Authenticator.
Put simply, 2-step verification is a method of providing your Google account with a second step of verification when you sign in. Meaning, you put in your password as usual, and then you’ll have to enter a code too. Auth-codes arrive via SMS, or in one of many authenticator apps, Google is a pioneer in this field.
Google has made its app available to both Android and iPhone users. It is ready and waiting for you on Google Play and the App Store.
How Does Google Authenticator Work?
It works by generating verification codes every few seconds which you can then input into an account which requires two-step verification. To log in, the user inputs their username and password as usual. After which, he/she enters the one-time passcode (OTP) that was generated by the App. This combination verifies that the person entering the login data is the same person who possesses the device which has the app installed.
Can Authenticator Codes be Backed Up?
One downside with the Google Authenticator app is that the codes cannot be backed up. There are apps which provide this feature, but more on that later. If you get a new phone or need to wipe your current phone, then you’ll need to re-install the Authenticator app and re-add your various accounts by going to each site and scanning the QR code.
However, you can transfer the Authenticator itself to a new phone. If you use 2-step verification for your Google account (and I thoroughly recommend you do!), you can move it to your new device by following the instructions below.
How to Copy to a Different Device
Copying the app and your codes from one device to another has been made remarkably simple by Google. To transfer to your new phone, simply follow these easy to understand steps.
- 1: Install the Auth-app on your Android device or iPhone and sign into it.
- 2: Go to Google’s two-step verification Web page and log in with your Google account.
- 3: Select the Change Phone option under the Authenticator app section.
- 4: Select the type of phone you’re moving to (Android or iPhone) and then scan the QR code using your new phone.
- 5: Enter the authentication code that’s generated on your new phone to verify the device.
Make sure that after doing this you’ve removed all the old accounts from the Authenticator app on your old phone. You’ll also have to go to each website to re-add your accounts. You can do that quickly by scanning the QR code.
Are There 3rd Party Apps that do Things Better?
Google Authenticator isn’t the only 2-factor app of its kind available for your Android device. In fact, many, say, there are third party apps which do a better job?
One of the significant downsides of Google’s application is that you can’t back up your saved accounts. Because of this, a new phone or factory resetting results in you having to re-add all your accounts.
A number of third-party apps such as Authy, Duo, and Authenticator plus offer the ability to back up your accounts to the cloud.
Other third-party apps also offer extra features like a desktop app in the case of Authy. However, these features aren’t always free. Apps like Authenticator Plus do provide a free version but require you to pay to unlock features such as backup and sync.
In short, having 2-step authentication set up on your online accounts is now a must. In an era where hacking, identity theft, and a whole host of other cyber-crimes is on the rise, you need to make sure that your information has that extra layer of security.
The method you choose really comes down to what works for you. There are many third-party applications out there, and they may provide features that you will find convenient. In fact, I guarantee, there are some that work better than Google Authenticator. That said, Google’s is a robust 2-step verification solution that offers what most everyday users will require, so it’s really up to your own preference.