Two-factor authentication (2FA) or Google Authenticator is a mobile application that allows you to have an extra layer of security to log into various online accounts. It generates a temporary 6-digit unique code that you can use alongside your password when logging in to services like Google, Facebook, Apple Binance and Coinbase etc. Essentially, it requires two methods of verification before allowing access to your account. First is one is the usual username and password combination, and the other method is Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) generated by a mobile app like Google Authenticator.
How to Use Google Authenticator:
Google Authenticator works by downloading and installing the app from Google Play Store or iPhone’s AppStore, then enabling two-factor authentication on your Online Account by scanning a QR code using the Phone’s camera or manually input by typing the Setup Key you are provided. Once Setup correctly, the Google Authenticator App generates a One-Time-Password every 30 seconds which can be used to login your Online accounts (Gmail, Outlook etc.). Now next time, when you login your account’s username and passwords, you will be asked to enter that 6-digit code from authenticator app, just make sure you enter that code before it resets to a newer one. Easy as Pie.
Should You Use Google Authenticator 2FA?
– If you’re a forgetful person who often loses their phone. I would advise you to stick to SMS based 2-FA. It’s simple as that.
– If you don’t trust your telecom company (phone number provider) with your privacy, or have government agencies chasing you, you must use GA.
– If you have multiple phones at home, and you have backed up Google Authenticator data by scanning/saving the backup QR on your other phone, then it’s fine. You can go ahead and use it.
For iPhone, iPad – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/google-authenticator/id388497605
Pros and Cons of Google Authenticator
- Google Authenticator is a widely-used 2FA app that adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. TOTP is used reliably by many IT giants.
- It generates one-time codes that are used in combination with your password to verify your identity, making it much harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts.
- Google Authenticator doesn’t require an internet connection or cellular data, which means you can still generate codes even if you’re in a location with poor service.
- It is more secure than SMS-based OTP, if your phone number gets hijacked or blocked, you will still have access to your online accounts.
- If you lose your phone or it gets stolen, you can use a backup QR code to restore your account on a new device.
- If you lose both your phone and your backup QR code, you may be locked out of your accounts permanently.
- Setting up Google Authenticator can be a bit tricky, and it may take some time to get used to generating and entering the codes each time you log in.
- While Google Authenticator is generally considered more secure than SMS-based 2FA, it’s not foolproof and can still be susceptible to certain types of attacks.
I have Lost My Phone with Google Authenticator installed, What Should I Do?
In case of Lost 2FA codes, you need to contact the website where your account is hosted and provide identification information, ownership proofs, alternate emails, security questions and receipts to the tech support. This process may be time consuming and account recovery/retrieval is directly dependent on the company’s policies. If you are already logged in to your PC, or tablet, you may be in luck, you can go to account settings and disable 2FA.
For Google Account, click “Lost Password“, “Try Another Way”
It is often advised to keep your Google authenticator codes backed up on your other phone using QR Code backup option.
Tips & Warnings:
- The 6 digit codes may seem insignificant, but may lock you out of your accounts if you lose your Phone containing the app.
- Account recovery in case of lost TOTP code is difficult and tiresome and may require to provide additional proofs documents containing personal identification data to the website’s tech support.
- Always backup your G2FA codes on your home phone or tablet.
- If your authenticator code is not working. Go to 3 dot menu from right top of screen, click ⚙️ Settings > Time Correction for Codes and then click “Sync Now“. Make sure you are connected to the internet when you’re doing it.