Best 2FA Apps to Protect Your Online Accounts in 2021
Enhance your security with these authenticator apps!
- Relying on passwords alone isn’t the best way to protect your accounts.
- Adding an extra layer of security to your logins in the form of two-factor authentication makes it harder for anyone to break into your account.
- 2FA apps or two-factor authenticators are the easiest way to implement and use two-factor authentication across all your online accounts.
2FA, or two-factor authentication, is a type of MFA (multi-factor authentication) that uses two factors to verify your identity at the time of login. While one of these factors is almost always the password associated with your account, the other is usually a time-based token, generated either by a token-generator device or mobile app.
Although at large, both of these token-generation approaches work well and have their share of advantages and disadvantages, app-based 2FA is a more accessible and practical solution for most people since it costs less (or nothing, in some cases) and offers better portability.
But having said that, with a ton of 2FA apps available on the App Store and Play Store, finding an app can be a hassle. To simplify this process, we’ve curated a list of the best 2FA apps on Android and iOS to help you find the right 2FA app for your needs.
1. 2FA Authenticator (2FAS)
2FA Authenticator is a simple and free 2FA app. It uses TOTP (time-based one-time password) to generate 6-digit OTPs for authentication for your online services and accounts—even when you’re offline.
All your keys can be backed up using the 2FAS backup system and stored in the cloud for access across different devices. Plus, this also gives you the freedom to access your keys on multiple devices at once. Not to mention, it can also come in handy when you lose your mobile phone, as you can still access your codes on your other device.
Registering/setting up accounts on 2FAS is quite easy too, and you can choose to either do it using a QR code or by entering the secret key manually. As for app security itself, you have the option to use biometric authentication to lock down the app.
Lastly, 2FA Authenticator also offers push authentication for services integrated through the 2FAS provider.
2. Aegis Authenticator
Aegis Authenticator is an Android-only two-factor authentication app. It’s open-source and free to use. You can use it to generate authentication codes for a wide range of services; any service that’s compatible with Google Authenticator supports Aegis Authenticator too.
One of the advantages of Aegis is that it supports TOTP and HOTP algorithms, which makes it compatible with many services. Similarly, another notable feature of the app is the ability to organize your tokens using groups or distinct icons so that it’s easier to find them.
Besides, you have the option to lock down the app using biometric services, create automatic backups to the vault/cloud storage, screen capture prevention, and more. Aegis Authenticator also offers the tap to reveal feature, which prevents your tokens from being visible as soon as you open the app.
If you’re coming from another 2FA app, Aegis lets you import your entries from most of the popular 2FA apps quite easily. And, when you need to export your entries, you can choose between plain text and encrypted output.
Download Aegis Authenticator: Android
3. Twilio Authy
Twilio Authy (formerly Authy) is a popular 2FA authenticator of choice for many Android and iPhone users. It generates strong 2-step verification tokens for your internet accounts to add an extra layer of security to them.
Not just that, Authy also helps you protect your crypto wallets from the likes of Coinbase, CEX.IO, etc. And, it even works when you’re offline, so you’re never bothered about poor network connectivity.
Unlike some of the other 2FA apps, Authy also supports 8-digit tokens, which you can use to improve your account’s security even further. As for other features, you get secure cloud backups: to ensure you never lose access to your tokens, multi-device synchronization: to access your tokens across multiple devices, and automatic backups: to automatically backup your tokens to Authy’s servers.
To keep your 2FA tokens protected from unauthorized access, Twilio Authy gives you the option to lock down the app with biometrics, PIN, or password, depending on which operating system you’re using it on.
4. Microsoft Authenticator
Microsoft Authenticator is an easy-to-use and free two-factor authentication app for Android and iOS devices. It works with a broad catalog of online accounts, but coming from Microsoft, it does offer you the ability to bring all your Microsoft accounts—personal, work, or school—together.
2-step verification tokens generated with Microsoft Authenticator are time-based and have a 30-second timer countdown, like most 2FA apps. Since the algorithm employed to generate these tokens is TOTP, the service works even when you’re offline.
One of the highlighting features of Microsoft Authenticator is that notification-based login for your Micorosft accounts, which lets you log in with a tap without requiring you to enter your password. Of course, you’ll need to prove your identity with either the security PIN or biometrics (fingerprint, facial authentication) on the app.
Besides, the service also supports cert-based authentication, which will come in handy when you have to prove your device’s authenticity to access other Microsoft apps and services.
5. TOTP Authenticator
TOTP Authenticator is a powerful 2FA authenticator. It’s available in both free and paid versions on Android and iOS. With the free version, you get access to pretty much all the essential features one asks for in a two-factor authentication app, whereas the premium version unlocks a few advanced features to elevate your experience.
Setting up 2FA verification with TOTP is pretty easy, and you just need to scan a QR code to make an entry into the app. It gets you multi-platform support, which syncs your tokens across different mobile platforms. Similarly, you also have the option to create both offline as well as cloud backups (on the paid version). Cloud backups are encrypted and take place over Cloud Sync.
What’s more, TOTP Authenticator gives you a few personalization (and organization) options along with security features to help you protect the app itself from unwarranted access using biometric or PIN security. Plus, if you’re on the paid plan, you also get access to a browser extension that makes entering tokens at logins convenient.
Another neat addition to the app is widgets support, which lets you add widgets to your home screen for quick access to your tokens.
6. Duo Mobile
Duo Mobile is a simple 2FA app that lets you secure your accounts with two-step verification and also uses push notification authentication to facilitate one-tap login authorization. If you’re on the Apple ecosystem, you even get one-tap login functionality on your Apple Watch.
Tokens generated on Duo Mobile are time-based, so you can access them even when you’re offline. It supports a wide range of popular websites, and you can add entries for them in just a few steps. As part of the recent update release, the app also received a bunch of UI changes, which makes the app more user-friendly and provides some customization options.
Besides, Duo Mobile lets you use biometric or passcodes to lock down your app and prevent unauthorized access.
Additionally, it offers the ability to back up and restore functionality, which gives you the ability to back up your accounts and security tokens from your present device and restore them to a new device.
7. Obsidian ∇
Obsidian ∇ is an iOS-exclusive 2FA app for iPhones. It’s one of the better-looking 2FA apps out there, with a bunch of customization options to help you personalize its appearance to your taste. Some of these personalization options include changing themes, using icons, and choosing visual modes.
Talking about functionality, Obsidian uses FaceID and TouchID to secure access and relies on iCloud Keychain to operate securely. It promises to never transfer or store data in any of its servers. Plus, you don’t need to sign up to use the service. If you’re a Mac user, you can use the sync functionality to sync your data between your iPhone and Mac.
Obsidian also creates a daily backup of your token entries. It also does this when you modify an entry or create a new entry for an account. As for extra features, you can organize your accounts on the app using folders to keep your work, personal, or any specific domain separate. And, if you’re coming from Google Authenticator, you can import all your entries into Obsidian using the import functionality.
Download Obsidian: iOS
8. Google Authenticator
Google Authenticator is the most basic two-factor authentication app out there. It comes from Google, as its name suggests, and is available for both Android and iPhone. One of the biggest advantages of Google Authenticator is that it’s supported by pretty much every service/app out there that uses 2FA for authentication.
If you’re looking for a simple 2FA app—one that doesn’t offer any additional features (and in some sense is more secure due to lack of cross-platform and sync features), Google Authenticator is the way to go. Similar to most 2FA apps, this one also uses the TOTP algorithm to generate tokes, so you can use it even when you don’t have an internet connection. And, in the case of supported services, the app also employs the HOTP algorithm to generate tokens.
Setting up accounts is also pretty easy, and you can do this either via a QR code or by manually entering a setup key. Similarly, you can also export your accounts easily with the help of QR codes. As an additional safety measure, you can choose to protect the app with biometrics.
9. Lastpass Authenticator
Lastpass Authenticator is a popular two-factor authenticator from Lastpass available for both Android and iPhone. It generates TOTP 6-digit codes and also offers push notifications for one-tap login approval. Additionally, it also includes support for SMS codes, encrypted backups, and provides automated setup via QR code.
andOTP is an Android-exclusive open-source 2FA app that’s completely free to use and provides excellent token security. It implements TOTP for security key generation and uses encrypted storage to store them securely onboard. Additionally, it offers various backup options, such as plain text, password-protected, and OpenPGP-encrypted backups.
Download andOTP: Android
Keep Your Accounts Protected With 2FA
Listed above are some of the best two-factor authenticator apps you can use on your Android or iPhone to manage your 2FA tokens across all your different online accounts.
While almost all of these apps work well and are able to satisfy most of your needs, it ultimately comes down to you to pick one based on your requirements. If you wish to have multi-device sync support and cloud syncing in your 2FA app, Obsidian, Authy, 2FAS are some good options, in our opinion.
On the other hand, if you’re dependent on a lot of Microsoft services, Microsoft Authenticator is the best 2FA you should use, whereas if you want a more secure experience, Google Authenticator is a safe bet due to lack of multi-device and cloud-syncing features.
FAQs About 2FA Apps
2FA is surely worth it. In fact, it’s one of the best practices to improve the security of your online accounts and protect them from unauthorized access.
While using strong and complex passwords definitely adds to your account’s security, the ever-increasing data leaks and hacks warrant additional protection for your accounts, and the 2FA mechanism is clearly the best way to do this.
But having said that, bear in mind that 2FA is not the be-all, end-all solution. You still need to follow secure internet practices to keep your accounts and online activities protected.
USB security keys aka hardware token generators, those small, key-shaped devices that look like thumb drives, are the safest two-factor authentication method. Part of the reason for this has to do with the fact that they aren’t directly connected to the internet—or have links to any other mode of communication—that could potentially lead to compromising the security token.
However, that security comes at a cost, literally. Most hardware keys like YubiKey and Titan are expensive. And therefore, they might not be the best solution for most individuals. 2FA apps, on the other hand, are more accessible and easier to use.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the choice of an authenticator app boils down to your preference at the end of the day. If you desire more features, Authy, Obsidian, and TOTP authenticator are some really good 2FA apps you should check out, whereas if you need better security, you may want to use Google Authenticator. Similarly, if you’re dependent on a lot of Microsoft accounts and services, Microsoft Authenticator is probably your best bet.
Like we’ve mentioned already, Google Authenticator is a much simpler and minimal 2FA app. And as such, the lack of advanced features like multi-device support and cross-platform sync makes it a little more secure than the apps offering these features. So if security is your priority, you should go with Google Authenticator.
On the other hand, Microsoft Authenticator works well with Microsoft apps and services. And therefore, if you’re heavily invested in these services, Microsoft Authenticator is the best 2FA for you.
Authy is one of the most feature-rich two-factor authenticators out there that includes features such as 8-digit token support, multi-device synchronization, automatic backups, and secure cloud backups to elevate your overall experience.
Google Authenticator, on the other hand, comes with just the essential token generation and management features to get your work done. In some sense, this enables it to keep your tokens more secure since there will only be a single point of compromise.