As we all are moving more and more towards a digital world, our bank accounts and other personal things are evolving towards an online system. We need to have more secure login and verification system which is safe, secure as well as easy to use. Only then the online adoption will move ahead. That’s what the 2FA does, using the Google authenticator of 2FA we can verify our ownership and use it to log in to a particular website or an app on our phone or a computer.
Using a 2FA, users will need to enter an additional passcode in addition to the regular password. The 2FA is generally a 6-8 digit generic code that changes after every interval. By simultaneously authenticating through two different source, it confirms the identity and allows users to access the account.
One of the very famous authenticators is the Google 2 factor authenticator. Google provides this service for free and is very much reliable. It is widely accepted by a lot of third-party apps and services. The official app of Google 2FA is currently supported by Android and iOS only as of now. The Google 2FA uses the Time-based One-time Algorithm (TOTP) and HMAC-based one-time Password Algorithm (HOTP) which generates unique 6 digit authentication codes for each of the linked accounts. It doesn’t even require any internet to work so you can use it offline as well.
Since Google 2FA is one of the most common ways to use 2FA so it makes it convenient, but on the other hand, it can create a little bit of fuss as well, since every time you want to login to some service on your computer you need to take out your phone and open the app and then enter the password. Instead, if we use an alternative to 2FA which doesn’t require a phone and can be used on the computer itself would be a lot easier for everyone.
In fact, using a computer for 2FA can also be easy since we often lose our mobile phones which can result in the temporary lockout of the accounts due to the 2FA system. So, in this article, we will discuss how and what apps or service we can use that can be an alternative to Google 2FA.
Desktop Clients for Google Authenticator
So below we have some of the best alternatives to Google 2FA and works flawlessly and at the same time, it provides good security as well.
Authy (Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome)
Authy is an RFC 4226 / RFC 6238 based 2FA client. It is compatible with Google authenticator and is available for macOS, iOS and Android. Authy also offers Google chrome and chrome based browser extensions that can be used in almost any desktop that supports Google Chrome and its extensions.
The Authy app can easily be set up. All you need to do is install the app or the extension and then you will be asked to sign up for first-time users using your mobile number and email address. Authy will try to verify your phone number and email by sending an OTP to your phone and email. Once you have logged in using the OTP sent on your devices you can start using the Authy 2FA just like the Google Authenticator app.
Another cool feature we found while using the Authy is that the app allows you to backup the list of 2FA enabled accounts that you have linked using the app during your initial setup. The app also prompts you to enter the backup password which will be used to encrypt the backup locally on an hour device before it begins uploading it to their servers.
After the backup password have been backed up you can restore it on any other device, by simply signing into the Authy app with your registered phone number and all you need to do is provide the backup password. The backup password would then be decrypted locally on your new device that would provide access to your 2FA codes for all of your previously linked accounts.
In the Authy app using the backup and sync enabled, you can easily link a particular 2FA-enabled service. Authy app allows you to link using the QR scanning code using the smartphone app and it can access the authentication code on all of your associated devices which are linked to the Authy app. The Authy app can also create OTP even when the device is offline so you don’t need to worry about the internet connection while using the Authy 2FA.
Authy also allows locking the app itself, which means you can set a master password that will be used to access the Authy app itself, only then you will get access to the 2FA code. You can even set the master password different for different devices, unlike the backup password which should be the same for all of the devices. Master passwords for Authy can be different for different devices. Once you set the master password on your devices, you will be required to enter the master password every time you try to open the Authy app.
As of now, the standalone app is only available for macOS and the developers say it is coming for Windows also very soon. but the Chrome extension of the Authy app itself feels like a standalone app and doesn’t miss out on any features. The Android and iOS app of Authy also gives a touch ID option which can increase the security of the app even more.
You can download the Authy app for your particular device form their website.
The authenticator is a Chrome extension that works standalone like any other individual app. The Authenticator app is very lightweight and is very powerful as well. The app is integrated with Google Authenticator and works very well with those apps and services that support the google 2FA system. You can use it to sync data from your Google account if you have logged into Authenticator using your google account.
Alternatively, you can also add your online accounts to the Authenticator whenever you enable the 2FA. Although it needs to be manual entry using the Account Name and a Secret Key, or you can automatically import the details by selecting the image of the QR code which is provided by the particular services where you are using 2FA.
The Authenticator extension lets you easily use the 2FA codes for your linked account simply by clicking on the extension icon inside the chrome next to the address bar. You can even add a master password which will be needed to enter whenever you try to access the Authenticator extension on chrome, this increases the security of the 2FA.
You can download the Chrome extension of the Authenticator app from the Chrome Web Store.
GAuth Authenticator (Chrome)
Another yet chrome extension that can be used as a 2FA system is the GAuth Authenticator. The GAuth generates TOTP tokens by simply implementing the HMAC-based OTP and it has been tested to work with the Google Authenticator service. You can easily set up the GAuth Authenticator. However, it misses out on the ability to scan the QR codes you have to manually provide the account name and secret key of each account for which you want to use the 2FA. Most of the services that use the 2FA provide the secret key in the form of plaintext,m however, if by chance any service doesn’t provide the secret key in plain text, then you have to use a QR code scanner on your phone to decode the secret key and then you will have to enter the code manually in the GAuth authenticator extension for chrome. After you have finished decoding the secret key below we have the steps on how to add the 2FA system account to the GAuth Authenticator.
- First, you need to install the GAuth authenticator extension for chrome from the chrome web store.
- Now, open the GAuth authenticator on chrome and then click on the edit icon located at the top right corner of the screen.
- Click on the Add button and then you have to enter the credentials of the 2A service where you want to use like the account name and the secret key provided to you.
- Finally, click on the Add button again and that’s it you have successfully added the service to be used with the GAuth 2FA.
If Windows users are feeling left out don’t worry we have you covered as well. Although most of the aforementioned are chrome extensions if someone wants to use an app for 2FA. Then here is the WinAuth for Windows. It is a portable open-source RFC 6238 based HOTP code generator for WIndows. The WinAuth is totally compatible with Google Authenticator based 2FA services. the app also supports the addition and display of multiple authenticators, each of the authenticators can be locked with a different password. Not to mention using the WinAuth your data is 100% encrypted with a master password and it is locked to your Windows computer or Microsoft account or a physical security key.
Using the WinAuth you can also import or export linked accounts in URI Key format if you want then you can also import keys from Authenticator Plus for Android which can be a handy feature for many.
The two-factor authenticator is a very important step and everyone should use it to secure their accounts and apps which have some important credentials or investments. These days a lot of apps and services have got the support of 2FA majorly in the banking sectors, trading exchanges and even cloud storage. So, make sure to use any of the 2FA mentioned above if you use any of the services which have important investments or credentials.