How Do Apps Like Google/Microsoft Authenticator Work?

Increasingly, private users and businesses alike are concerned with online security. Passwords, which once seemed like the height of online protection, now represent a significant hazard.

by | Jun 4, 2021 | Tech Insights

How Do Apps Like Google/Microsoft Authenticator Work?

Increasingly, private users and businesses alike are concerned with online security. Passwords, which once seemed like the height of online protection, now represent a significant hazard. Many businesses have chosen to use multi-factor authentication in an effort to alleviate some of the dangers associated with using passwords alone.

Multi-factor authentication uses more than one “factor,” or input, to ensure that the user is who he says he is. For example, in addition to entering your password to access a specific app or website, you might also have to input a code that gets sent to your email or cell phone: something that only you should have access to and that, at least theoretically, confirms that the person trying to access the content is you, not someone who has managed to acquire your password. Many security specialists recommend using multifactor authentication to help provide an extra layer of security that will help keep hackers at bay.

Platforms like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator help take that protection to the next level.

What are Authenticator Apps?

Authenticator apps like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator offers an additional layer of security on apps that require two-factor authentication. Microsoft Authenticator can, for example:

  • Provide password-free login options for Microsoft platforms, which can make it easier for you to log in and use those apps
  • Provide single-use passwords for sites that use two-factor authentication
  • Allow you to easily manage accounts on multiple websites at the same time, which provides ease of use
  • Make it simple for you to manage passwords for a variety of websites, which can make it easier for you to choose secure passwords–without forcing you to remember a complex password for each app

Authenticator apps make it easy to enhance the overall security of your apps and platforms while increasing the convenience of your access. They help authenticate your connections for you, which provides you with multi-factor authentication on many platforms without requiring you to remember complex passwords. Thanks to its one-time-use password options, it can also provide additional security for platforms that do require passwords.

How Do Authenticator Apps Work?

Authenticator apps like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator work by sending a specific key between the app and the service that you’re attempting to use. That key exists only between those two platforms, which makes it much more difficult to intercept than the traditional two-factor setup.

In some cases, your IT admin may indicate that you need to share your location through the app. These location-specific requirements will help ensure that you, and only you, can access that vital information, rather than it being accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. If your location does not match up with the geographic parameters set by your IT department when you attempt access, you may not be able to log in. This is a highly effective strategy for preventing people in other parts of the world from easily accessing confidential data within your company.

The Advantage of Authenticator Apps

Two-factor authentication does provide a layer of security for your logins, no matter what platform you’re using. However, it does have some basic insecurities. A hacker can intercept the communication between the app and your device, allowing them to reproduce the code and break into the system. With authenticator apps, on the other hand, there’s less transmission between the two devices, which means that a hacker cannot simply “catch” and reproduce the key. As a result, you have a much more secure connection.

Authenticator apps can also streamline the login process by preventing you from having to log in separately to each of your applications. You can use more complex passwords, since Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator both work as password storage options in addition to their other purposes. You don’t have to remember a huge number of complicated passwords. Instead, you just have to keep up with your Microsoft or Google access.

App locks, which are available for both Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator, can also provide an extra layer of security. Your app can send you notifications at any time. However, when you turn the app lock on, you will have to log in with your password or your biometric information, usually your fingerprint or a face scan, in order to authorize any usage of the app. As a result, someone else using your device cannot access that information.

Do You Need an Authenticator App?

If you’re accessing confidential information, multifactor authentication can prove critical to providing that vital layer of security and ensuring that no one but you can access your accounts. An authenticator app can help add an additional layer of security, further protecting your accounts and your devices. Many businesses also find that authenticator apps help encourage their employees to use appropriate passwords and protect the security of their access, since they make it much easier for users to maintain that vital security.

Whether your business, specifically, needs to use authenticator apps may depend on the technology you’re using and how securely you need to protect your access. If you often deal with confidential data, if you want to protect employee access, or if you have employees working from a variety of locations, especially with hybrid and remote work solutions on the rise, you may find that an authenticator app can add the missing touches to your security. However, your business needs may vary. Working with a security specialist can help you make more effective decisions about the right security solutions for you.

At Network Security Associates, we work to help our clients choose the security solutions that are right for them. We take a layered approach to security that encourages our clients to protect every aspect of their businesses–and we’ll work with you to help you learn about your security options, what solutions your business really needs, and how to choose the right solution for your business. Contact us today to learn more about the best security solutions for your business and how we can help you enhance your overall security.