Free app for extra security
Google Authenticator is a free mobile security app to protect your Google account. If a password is compromised, the app will check if it’s you trying to log in by sending a code to a linked phone. Other similar 2-step verification services include Dashlane and LastPass.
How do I use Google Authenticator?
First, install the app and set up 2-step verification. Once you’ve done that, using the app to log in is extremely quick and easy.
Here’s how it works.
- On the Google login page, enter your Google username and password into the respective fields.
- The authenticator app will generate a 6-digit code that you’ll need to enter into the account login screen.
What if I lost my phone with Google Authenticator?
It’s advisable to change the password on your Google account. This will ensure that even if someone has your phone and knows your password, Authenticator won’t generate the security code.
If you buy a new phone, you’ll have to go through the whole installation and set-up process again. This includes associating any other accounts that you want to use the app with.
Can I get Google Authenticator on my laptop?
No, the Google Authenticator app is only available on Android and iOS devices.
However, there are workarounds to use the service on a Windows PC by getting a hold of the secret key that Google provides if you can’t set it up by scanning a QR code.
Third-party apps will request for a secret key when logging in. It's essentially a master key for your Google account, so make sure you store it somewhere completely safe.
Can Google Authenticator be backed up?
For security reasons, Google doesn’t keep backup copies of your security codes, but there are three ways you back them up:
- Take screenshots of the codes.
- Write the codes down.
- Program a hardware token device.
It's essential to be aware that the first two options carry security risks. If someone obtains them or your Google account password, they’ll have access to your account.
The app’s sole purpose is to generate a security code on your phone to ensure that you know about any attempt to log into your Google account. It’s a simple process that works perfectly.
Should you download it?
If you want more robust security for your Google Account, then yes, you should definitely be using this app. Even if someone obtains or cracks your password, they’ll also need to have your phone with them.
For alternative two-step verification services, Dashlane and LastPass are both also worth considering.
- Free to download
- Works quickly
- Physical safeguard against hackers
- No backup of passcodes within the app