2-factor authentication with an authenticator app

An authenticator app is a security tool used for two-factor authentication (2FA) that enhances the security of online accounts. It generates a Time-based One Time Password (TOTP), a temporary code, which you use in addition to your regular password to log into an account. This extra layer of security is crucial as it significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access to your accounts.

This guide explains:

  • Why to use an authenticator app.
  • How authenticator apps work.
  • Which authenticator apps we recommend.
  • How to use your authenticator app.

Why use an authenticator app?

  • Increased security
    Authenticator apps are more secure than other forms of 2FA like SMS as the codes are generated on your device and are not transmitted over the internet. This makes them less susceptible to interception or SIM swapping attacks.
  • Offline access
    Authenticator apps typically work offline, generating codes even when your device does not have an internet connection. This can be particularly useful in situations where you’re traveling or in areas with poor network coverage.
  • No dependency on mobile network
    Authenticator apps do not rely on mobile network coverage. This is especially beneficial in areas with poor network connectivity or during instances where your mobile network might be temporarily unavailable.
  • Faster authentication
    Authenticator apps often provide quicker access to codes compared to waiting for SMS messages or phone calls to arrive, which can be delayed due to network congestion or other factors.
  • Protection against common threats
    Authenticator apps offer protection against phishing attacks and breaches that can occur due to weak or reused passwords.
  • Privacy
    Authenticator apps do not expose your phone number, which can help protect your privacy and reduce the risk of SIM swapping attacks or other forms of social engineering.
  • Widespread compatibility
    Authenticator apps are widely supported by many online services and websites, offering a universal solution for two-factor authentication (2FA). This means you can use the same app for multiple accounts, which streamlines the authentication process.

How authenticator apps work

  • TOTP algorithm
    The app uses a secret algorithm, linked to the current time, to generate a unique code every 30-60 seconds.
  • Setup process
    This generally involves scanning a QR code provided by the service you’re securing, which creates a secure connection between your account and the app.

Choosing an authenticator app

We recommend the following popular authenticator apps, to find out more click the links below:

Look for apps that offer secure backups, compatibility with your devices and the ability to manage multiple accounts.

How to use the Authenticator App

The set up of your authenticator app may vary depending on the app you choose.

To find out how to use the our recommended authenticator apps, click the links below:

Safety Tips

  • Device Security
    Ensure your device is secured with a PIN or biometric lock.
  • Secret Key Protection
    Keep the QR code and the secret key secure and avoid sharing them.

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