What is an Authenticator App?
An authenticator app is a supplementary mechanism which adds a layer of security to online accounts. It does this by restricting access to only those that can successfully complete a secondary validation challenge (in conjunction with the usual login credentials) generated upon each and every new login attempt.
How does an authenticator app work?
An authenticator app is usually installed on a smartphone or other device and generates a random passcode every 30 seconds. The passcode can be used for sign-in, two factor authentication, an more.
Passcodes generated by an authenticator apps are generated from a secret code that is shared between the service you are using and your device, as well as the current time.
Are there alternatives to authenticator apps?
Yes, there are alternatives. Authenticator apps provide a layer of security and are a convenient option for use by many, but they are still vulnerable to phishing due to the 30-second window.
Security keys, like the YubiKey, are considered to be both more convenient and more secure. Yubico also provides a use in conjunction with the YubiKey.
What are the benefits of an authenticator app?
Secure multiple personal and work accounts in one place, without your secrets being shared between services
Easy to use and quick setup, read more below on the ease of the Yubico authenticator app in particular
Experience stronger security for online accounts by adding a layer of security beyond passwords