What is Google Authenticator? How it is more secure over SMS based 2FA?


How does Google Authenticator get you more security over  SMS based two-factor authentication

In the era full of cyberattacks and hacking, security is the most prioritized feature that every individual wants. The most preferred way of securing your account from cyberattacks is to enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) is a type, or subset, of multi-factor authentication. By using 2FA you need two instances to log in into your account, the first is your login details and second is the authentication required to confirm those details.

Most of the users enable Two-Factor authentication with the combination of SMS validation but have you ever thought of how secure it is to enable 2FA with SMS? In the current pandemic situation, the telecom companies have made all the services online by which the hackers have taken advantage and use the SIM SWAPPING service to take over the access of the target phone number and access all the services used by the number.

By losing access over your phone number, the hackers can access all the OTPs, bank account numbers, and any other personal information. To get rid of this scenario there are multiple authentication apps that you can use for enabling two-factor authentication. As a personal recommendation, I will say use Google Authentication for opting for the two-factor authentications for your accounts. So let’s take a look at how you can use Google Authenticator and how it is more secure than your SMS based 2FA.

What is Google Authenticator?

Google Authenticator is a software-based authenticator by Google that implements two-step verification services using the Time-based One-time Password Algorithm and HMAC-based One-time Password algorithm, for authenticating users of software applications. When logging into a site supporting Authenticator (including Google services) or using Authenticator-supporting third-party applications such as password managers or file hosting services, Authenticator generates a six- to the eight-digit one-time password which users must enter in addition to their usual login details.

Why use Google Authenticator over SMS? Google Authenticator has the advantage of not needing to rely on your carrier; codes stay with the app even if a hacker manages to move your number to a new phone. The code provided by Google Authenticator expires quickly, usually after 30 seconds or so. Also, SIM swapping won’t hijack your 2FA codes if you’re using the authenticator app. The codes depend on the app itself, not on your SIM card. The authenticator app also works even when you don’t have mobile coverage.

How to enable Google Authenticator for 2FA?

Follow the below steps to enable the Google Authenticator based two-factor authentication:

  1.  Make sure two-step authentication is enabled for your Google account
  2. Download and install the Google Authenticator app from Google Play store
  3. Connect Google Authenticator to your Google Account
  4. Connect Google Authenticator for 2-step authentication at other apps and sites
  5. Done!!

If you have any issues enabling Google Authenticator for your accounts, mention it in the comment section below. For more news on tech and cybersecurity stay tuned on Android Rookies by subscribing to our newsletter from here.


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