Two-step verification: using an authenticator application

Using an authenticator application on your iPhone is one of the safest ways to ensure greater security in accessing your accounts on the internet.

Nowadays, everyone recommends activating the two-step verification on all internet accounts you have. That’s because it’s increasingly common for your secret password to be leaked because of hacked websites or deceptive emails.

See in this article how to enable 2-step verification on websites using a authenticator application.

Two-step verification

The concept of two-step verification (also known as two-factor authentication or 2FA) is simple and boils down to putting an extra layer of security using two things:

  • something that you knows (your password)
  • something that you It has (your smartphone, token, or a security key)

Both elements must be correct, otherwise access is not allowed.

In the past, it was quite common for services to use this SMS confirmation code. But over time, this proved to be a somewhat insecure form of protection, since scammers are able to clone the phone number and thus receive the SMS message addressed to the person. That kind of thing happens today with WhatsApp.

So, the best way to have the second factor of security is to use applications that manage this code locally, right on the device. It’s like those physical bank tokens, but in digital format on your cell phone.

With the application installed, it will generate a specific code for that service every 30 seconds, and you will be able to access your account with it (plus the password you already know).

So, even if someone with bad intentions is on the other side of the world, find your password and try to log into your account, you won’t be able to because you will need the generated code In your cellphone.

Is it or is it not a good extra layer of security?

Authenticator application

To generate the validation code locally on your phone, you need to install an application that does this.

There are a few options on the market. Below you can see some:

Everyone is very good and efficient, but we put Authy at the top of the list because we like him more. It backs up to the cloud, allowing you to recover all your accounts if you lose your phone or it is stolen.

Many users are very suspicious when there is a synchronization of data by the cloud, as this opens the possibility of data leakage in cases of hacker attacks. But Authy uses the AES-256 encryption standard, one of the most advanced, which can only be decrypted with the security key on your device. So, in theory, even Authy’s own employees wouldn’t be able to access their tokens if they wanted to.

How to enable 2-step verification in an authenticator application

There are several services that currently allow you to activate verification in two steps: Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and many others. So, the first thing you need to look for is whether the service you use allows you to activate this verification using an authenticating application.

It is the service that needs to offer the option of two-step verification with the authenticator application. If it does not, there is no way to activate the function.

Apple does not allow external applications to manage your verification codes in two steps. She uses other devices associated with the Apple ID for this or the bad old SMS.

Follow the steps:

STEP 1 Access your account

Connect to the desired account and enter the security / login section.

STEP 2 Generating the QR Code

Look for the 2-step verification setup. If you have a choice between SMS and app, select the app.

You should then see a QR Code on the screen to be scanned.

STEP 3 Registering in the app

Open the authenticator app you chose from the list above and add a new account. This will allow you to scan the QR code you just generated on the website.

Point the phone at him, scan the code and give that account a name.

STEP 4 Confirming the code

You installed the token on your phone, but now you need to inform the site about that token.

Below the QR code, enter the token that is appearing in your application. If time passes and the code changes, use the new one.

2FA Two-factor verification

Enabling two-factor verification is the best thing to do with your accounts. It is a layer of security that protects against intrusions and guarantees peace of mind in the preservation of your data. However, it is very important for you to know that, if for some reason you ever run out of the device that has the authenticating application, you can stay with account locked forever.

That phrase is scary, isn’t it? That’s why we suggest the Authy, because it allows you to retrieve all your tokens on another phone, if you need to. But for that, you can never forget the Authy backup password.

Another great tip given by the reader Cláudio Heckler in the comments is that if you save the original QR code generated by the site, it can be used in the future to retrieve the same token. So, if you really care about not being locked out of your account, the tip is to always keep the QR code (either in a digital file or printed on paper) in a safe place. If you ever need to, just open any authenticating application and scan that code again, and the same token will be re-enabled.

But it’s not worth leaving the QR code where anyone look, otherwise it’s like leaving the key outside the door and then this whole article was useless. ?