Google Authenticator
Google LLC

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Google Authenticator: Securing Your Online Accounts

With the rise in online transactions and the subsequent discovery of several hacking attempts, it is safe to say that the internet has become a forest full of wolves. While the wolves in the physical forest only target animals, the wolves in the virtual forest go after people’s personal and financial data. In a bid to curtail cyber theft, cyber attacks, and password breaches, a lot of online services have been developed. One of such services is Google Authenticator.

Google Authenticator is a two-factor authentication (2FA) app developed by Google. It is a security tool that adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. Google Authenticator works by generating a 6-8 digit code that changes every 30 seconds. This code is required alongside your password when you try to log in to your account. This means that in addition to knowing your password, you must also have your smartphone (where the Google Authenticator app is installed) handy to access your account.

Features of Google Authenticator

1. Two-factor Authentication

Google Authenticator is a two-factor authentication tool, which means it provides an extra layer of security when you log in to an online account. A password alone may not be enough to protect your account from cyber attacks. With two-factor authentication, you need your password, and a unique code from your Google Authenticator app to access your account.

2. Third-Party Integration

Google Authenticator can be integrated into third-party apps such as social media, banking, and cryptocurrency apps. This way, you can add an extra layer of security to your accounts on these platforms.

3. Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP)

Google Authenticator generates a TOTP – a unique 6-8 digit code that changes every 30 seconds. This code is required when you try to log in to your account. Since this code is unique, it cannot be replicated by hackers, making it almost impossible for unauthorized persons to access your account.

4. Multiple Accounts

You can add multiple accounts to your Google Authenticator app. This means you can use one app to secure all your accounts. You can add accounts by scanning a QR code provided by the service or manually adding a code.

How to Use Google Authenticator

Step 1: Download the Google Authenticator app from the Google Play Store (Android users) or App Store (iOS users).

Step 2: Open the Google Authenticator app and click on “Begin Setup”.

Step 3: You can choose to scan a QR code or input a manual code to add each account. A lot of online services now have a 2FA feature that requires you to enter a verification code every time.

Step 4: Input your smartphone’s camera to scan the QR Code that appears on your screen or input the manual code provided by your online service.

Step 5: Once you have scanned the code, a time-based one-time password (TOTP) will be generated by the Google Authenticator app. Enter this TOTP into the online service to activate two-factor authentication.

A few online services with two-factor authentication capabilities include Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

How Does Google Authenticator Secure Your Account?

The primary goal of Google Authenticator is to protect your online accounts from cybercrime. Here’s how:

1. Adds an Extra Layer of Security

Google Authenticator acts as an extra layer of security and ensures that only authorized persons access your account(s). With two-factor authentication, a hacker needs access to your password and your smartphone to have access to your account. Since you’re the only person who has access to your smartphone, you’re the only one who can approve authorization requests.

2. Protects Against Password Breaches

Password breaches happen when a hacker gains access to a database with passwords stored as plain text or encrypted. Since the hacker gains access to the passwords, they can easily access any account that uses the password. When two-factor authentication is enabled, your account is protected from such incidents. Even if a hacker gains access to your password, they will still need the unique code generated by Google Authenticator to access your account.

3. Prevents Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering is a type of cybercrime that involves tricking people into sharing their personal information, such as passwords and data. A common example occurs where a hacker sends an email asking you to provide your password or verification code. By doing this, they gain direct access to your account. With Google Authenticator, there’s no way you can be tricked into sharing a verification code as the code is only available on the smartphone where the Google Authenticator app is installed.

Google Authenticator vs. SMS Authentication

Two-factor authentication tools come in two categories: app-based authentication and SMS authentication. SMS authentication involves receiving a verification code via SMS, while app-based authentication involves a code generated by an app. While both forms of authentication are effective, app-based authentication is considered more secure than SMS authentication.

SMS authentication is not as secure as app-based authentication due to several reasons. Firstly, SMS messages can be intercepted by hackers using call forwarding, phone cloning, and SIM Swapping methods to get unauthorized access to your account. Secondly, SMS messages are stored on your device or on the cloud, making it possible for hackers to access them when they gain access to your phone or hack into your account.

On the other hand, app-based authentication is more difficult to intercept since it generates unique codes that change every 30 seconds. Additionally, the codes are stored on your smartphone or tablet, and only accessible through the Google Authenticator app. This makes it almost impossible for hackers to access the codes unless they steal your smartphone.

Final Verdict

Google Authenticator is an excellent tool for anyone with online accounts, especially those with sensitive information such as banking and cryptocurrency platforms. Setting up two-factor authentication is easy, and it provides an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. While there are other two-factor authentication tools out there, Google Authenticator is free, easy to use, and works with a lot of online services. Protect yourself from cyber theft today by setting up two-factor authentication using Google Authenticator.