BreakingModern — Today’s Android app pick is going to give you one central spot on your smartphone to easily support and use two factor authentication. Google Authenticator is a free app that generates two-step verification codes on your device, which can be used on sites like WordPress, Google and Facebook. Sure, some of these sites also send SMS verification, or in Facebook’s case use a built-in code generator, but I find it much easier to store all my codes in one app.
For some reason Twitter only supports sending the second authentication step via SMS to your phone. Yeah, I’m not quite sure what’s up with that either. Perhaps one day they’ll hop on the bandwagon and do it this way. Hopefully by then we’ll have something much more secure than a username/password combo protecting our online lives.
Two Factor Authentication
But, until a better way is established for authentication on the open web, the username/password system is what we’re stuck with. And as long as we’re stuck with it, whenever possible it’s always wise to enable two factor, or “two-step” authentication.
There’s a lot of stuff out there trying to “steal all your base,” so this is exceptionally important, especially as we give more of our “base” to these services. If you put any amount of data about yourself on a website, and they offer an extra layer of security via the two factor method, you really should set it up. Even if it’s a second of hassle.
Right now Google offers 2-step verification here and Facebook offers what they call Login Approvals. If you search the web you can find tutorials how to enable both of these security measures.
Also, if you run or use any WordPress sites, look at installing the Google Authenticator for WordPress by Henrik Schack. This lets you enable two factor authentication using the Google Authenticator app. It can be done on a per user basis to lock down your accounts, or just the admin account. It’s very handy, specifically because of all the crap that floats around the web looking for easy targets to exploit.
To set up Google Authenticator you can scan a barcode, which the WordPress plugin or Google will show you when setting up your account. You can also manually enter a code, which is what the Facebook process will ask for. Then, when asked to provide the second factor and authenticate your identity, pull out your phone, which you always have on you, open the app, and type in the number.
Keep in mind, this only works if your phone is something you always have on you at all times. Always. If you lose your phone, or someone steals it, your account won’t be any more secure than if you only had the username and password combination.
But, if some hacker steals the database your login credentials just so happen to be in, the two factor authentication will keep you safer, and the Google Authenticator that much safer.
Bottom line, and really I’m repeating myself not only to get my word count up, but also because I think this is super important: If a site you use offers something like two factor authentication, turn it on. It’s well worth it in the end.
You can get the Google Authenticator app free here on Google Play, and also on Apple iOS.
Have a great app you want to share? Email it to [email protected]
Screenshots: Google Play
Cover Art: Camellia Hotel iButton room lock 2 by BrokenSphere - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.