When it comes to 2-factor authentication, there are several apps that will let you secure your accounts with an extra layer of security. One of them is Google Authenticator. The biggest problem that is arising for end users and for services that secure their access with Google Authenticator, is that when the phone is lost or if the app is deleted for some reason, users have a lot of trouble regaining access to their accounts. Actually, it doesn’t have a means to recover.
Also, there is no app lock feature or fingerprint security, that means anyone can casually browse through all your codes. So, here are some of the best alternatives for it which don’t have these shortcomings. But before that, let’s have a short look at Google Authenticator.
You may not be familiar with it, so it’s useful to have a quick look for comparison purposes. Google Authenticator is very well made and more than does the job it promises.
The 2FA process for various accounts (and many are supported), differs from site to site. To use the Authenticator app, you will have to choose the Switch To App option on the Google webpage. Now open Authenticator, and tap the “+” icon at the top right hand side. This will pop up two options at the bottom of the screen. Choose Scan barcode.
When you choose Switch To App on the Google website, a QR code appears. Use Authenticator’s QR code reader to scan the code, and the account will appear on the Authenticator screen. Enter the six digit code from Authenticator into the website box and click Verify and Save. Everything should now be tickety-boo.
From now on, whenever you are asked for a 2FA code, just open up Authenticator, get the current code, and enter it on the account screen. The little countdown icon to the right of the code will tell you how long you have until the code changes.
Now that you have an overview of Google Authenticator, let’s take a look at those best free equivalents. It’s worth setting up a dummy email account and trying them all out to see which one ultimately meets your standards.
Best Google Authenticator Alternatives
1. “Authy” the Best Google Authenticator Alternative
This is definitely the best 2-factor authentication app available as of now. And to be honest, it is superior to Google Authenticator, just because of its backup feature which is the biggest drawback in the Google app. This app will store the encrypted copy of all the accounts that you have added so that you don’t face any issues if you lost your phone or switched to a new one.
And another big difference that it provides over the Google Authenticator is the Authy passcode. Using this code, no one will be able to browse through all your codes.
Duo is very visually pleasing. The dark green color, the “interesting” logo, the huge numbers. The only thing which lets the side down is the lack of a countdown clock. So you could be in the middle of typing the number in, only for it to change suddenly.
Duo also knocks Google Authenticator down a notch by offering iCloud backup of all your information. But the downside to that is that it can only be used to restore to the same phone, not to a new phone. So if you have to reset the phone to factory setting for example.
Most intriguingly, Duo also works on ordinary cellphones and landlines, and even BlackBerrys and Windows Phones! So, all the rare, antique devices then.
3. Microsoft Authenticator
I’m still not sure why Google is not providing any passcode or app lock for their app when everybody else is doing it. Take Microsoft Authenticator, for example, this also lets you secure your accounts with the app lock.
This app also offers the option to let it run in the background which is optional. Apart from that, the rest of the working is quite similar to Google Authenticator. There is no option here to back up your accounts.
4. “HDE OTP” One of Google Authenticator Alternatives
HDE OTP also offers their users passcode protection, to stop the snoopers from snooping. The app is compatible with all of the popular services. Like Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, Evernote, WordPress to name a few. The only limitation to this app though is that it is only available for iOS. So, sorry users of other operating systems.
But if you are an iOS user, and want something simple, without many bells and whistles, this is a solid contender to think about.
5. Authenticator Plus
Authenticator Plus is a free app, but when you start it up, you are told that if you are willing to pay a very small one-time payment, it will unlock lots of other features. You can easily reject the offer though and continue using it for free. It doesn’t seem to nag you again.
To get the full benefit of Authenticator Plus, you should really crack open the wallet or purse and pay the few Euros/Dollars that it asks for. In fact, it is quite clearly worth it, and puts Google Authenticator to shame.
Everything is encrypted with a passcode, and you can import/export your settings from/to iCloud and Dropbox. Paying the payment gets you cool features such as organizing accounts into categories, cross-platform syncing, and automatic backups.
If I had to choose a preference to Google Authenticator, this would be the one I would highly recommend.
6. SoundLogin Authenticator
This app is available on Android as well as iOS and also as an extension on some of the browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. In order to use this app, your PC should have a working microphone as we will be dealing with audio here. Once the app and the extension are installed on both smartphone and the browser, then you are good to go.
Whenever you receive OTP, the mobile app transfers that OTP to your browser via notification sounds, so make sure that your phone is near your laptop’s microphone. This sound will transfer the temporary or changing code to the browser extension. And the browser will automatically fill that code for login without you having to type anything. Later on, you can check the additional encryption box to add a second layer of security to your login procedure.
7. LastPass Authenticator
A great alternative to Google Authenticator because it also provides secure cloud backup which is not the case in Google product. But in order to use the backup feature, you also need to install LastPass Password manager. Once it is installed, you can configure the setting to automatic backup.
And it also has the upper hand in terms of the app security. You can set your fingerprint( which according to me is the best security feature) and also a 4 digit pinas the app lock. It’s good that is has a backup option as you won’t be able to take any screenshot in this app.
8. Yubico Authenticator
It is a 2-factor authentication app with which you can add an extra layer of security to your login credentials. Working is exactly similar like all the other apps. You can add accounts either by scanning their barcode or manually by entering the key id. And just like most of the apps, it won’t allow you to take the screenshot anywhere.
But what set this app apart from all of the competitors is its NFC feature and also its ability to hide its thumbnail from the app switcher. And for all the GitHub lovers, this is also an open source authenticator app.
This is a free open source 2 step verification security app which uses OTP as well as your normal login passwords to make the login procedure more secure. You can add your accounts by either scanning their barcode or entering its id key.
To be honest, this is exactly similar to Google Authenticator. There is no option to set a passcode or app lock to prevent this app from unnecessary usage by anyone else. And also there is no option to take the backup of the accounts. To make this app even more secure, you can’t even capture screenshots in this app except when you are scanning the barcode.
10. “SAASPASS” one of the Google Authenticator Alternatives
SAASPASS is a lesser known option with adequate two-factor authentication features that makes it a viable alternative to Google Authenticator. It provides out-of-the-box support for many of the most popular cloud services and applications such as Google Apps, Office 365, Amazon Web Services and many more. You can also add other online accounts using its built-in barcode scanner.
The app also supports authentication using Bluetooth proximity but only for Mac users with Android devices that support Bluetooth Low Energy. Unlike Duo Mobile, you can set up SMS recovery using your mobile number so that you can always transfer your accounts to a new device.
In an era where hacking and identity theft are on the rise, it is absolutely essential that you enable two-factor authentication. But the key to sticking with it is to find a 2FA solution which you are comfortable with. Whether that is an app or a YubiKey is a matter of personal preference. But hopefully this article has shown that you don’t always have to follow the Google line, however much they try to convince you otherwise. There are other options out there.
You can add accounts which you want to secure by scanning their barcode or simply entering the secret key or id in all of them. Some of them will let you capture a screenshot and some of them will not. Apart from that, all these are free to use and provide better features making them as the best Google Authenticator alternatives.