Best Free Authenticator Apps to Secure your Accounts

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Here we will explain what is two-factor authentication, how they work and the most top authenticator apps on the market

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Cyberthreats have become rampant, and one layer of protection is not sufficient. While a password helps to safeguard your data, malicious actors can crack it. That is why you should employ extra security features like two-factor authentication (2FA), also dubbed as MFA (multi-factor authentication)link outside website.

Read on to find out what 2FA is and the best authenticator apps available.

What is two-factor authentication?

This is a two-step verification process aimed at adding an extra layer of security to better protect your online account. So, besides your username and password, you need to provide an additional credential to verify your identity. Usually, this is a one-time code that you get through email, SMS, or an authentication app.


Why is 2FA important? This is a major security enhancement to your online accounts, mainly if your password is hacked. It's like when someone steals your keys to enter your house but finds another door that requires another key.

How authenticator apps work

Most authenticator apps work by generating a single-use passcode that expires after a few seconds. This is a secure form of 2FA to prove your identity when logging into your account. Note that the unique code is ever-changing.

You will input your logging credentials when signing in to any of your online accounts like email or Twitter. Then, you will be prompted to enter your authenticator code displayed by the authenticator app to access your account.

The authenticator codes are generated using the HMAC-based one-time password (HOTP) algorithm by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). However, the work of the authenticator app is to generate the codes dumbly and doesn't have access to your accounts. Also, they don't communicate with the sites after transferring the codes.

These days most websites work with authenticator apps like Facebook, Google, PayPal, etc. You can find the sites supporting 2FA/MFA in this 2FA directory.

Is it safe to use authenticator apps?

Yes, the ones on this list have robust security and are even safer than the 2FA codes sent by SMS. In fact, they don’t rely on mobile connections or the internet but work with a process known as hashing. This means that malicious actors won’t have anything to intercept.

Hashing is a type of encryption that generates codes using an algorithm. The best thing about it is that it cannot be reversed, unlike the standard encryption.

Configuring your accounts with authenticator apps may sound intimidating, but it is straightforward and worth it in terms of security.

Top authenticator apps

Below are some of the best authenticator apps in the market.

Twilio Authy

Twilio Authy is one of the best authenticator apps available. It is compatible with various operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS, making it convenient if you use a mix of devices. In addition, the app is affordable as the free account gives you 100 authentications and free support.

The only downside is that it requires you to provide a phone number when creating an account, which is a bit invasive. Nonetheless, it is easy to use and offers excellent features like secure cloud backup, touch ID, as well as PIN and password protection.


• Email, SMS, and phone authentication

• Supports a wide range of devices

• Affordable

• Free support


• Requires a phone number

Duo Mobile

Duo Mobile, now part of Cisco, is perhaps the best authenticator app for corporates. Developers will enjoy features like multi-user deployment while end-users get simple one-tap authentication. There is also Duo restore that makes it effortless to back up your accounts.

Moreover, the app offers multiple authentication controls like biometrics, push notifications, and passcodes. The free account allows you to authenticate only 10 accounts. However, it doesn't sync across devices and lacks app access protection.



• Easy and simple to use

• Conceal codes from view

• Offers multiple controls


• No app access protection

Google Authenticator

Many people are skeptical of Google, and if you are one of them, you should opt for another option. Nonetheless, Google Authenticator is a basic and easy-to-use authenticator app. Some of its features include a dark theme, Wear OS support, and offline support.

However, the app is pretty bare-bones, lacking certain essential features. For example, it doesn’t have app access protection, which means your accounts can be compromised if malicious actors get hold of your device.


• Effortless to navigate interface

• Multiple third-party integrations

• Doesn’t require


• Limited features

Microsoft authenticator

Microsoft authenticator is an excellent option if you have Microsoft accounts, as you can log in to them with a button. In addition, it has an easy-to-use interface and generates codes even without an internet connection.

The app allows network administrators in schools and workplaces to register users’ devices. In addition, it is free and compatible with various platforms.

Sadly, you cannot transfer credentials between devices with different operating systems. For example, it is impossible to duplicate your details from an iOS device to an Android device.


• Free across all platforms

• Effortless to use

• Masks codes from view


• Inadequate third-party integration


FreeOPT is a solid option, although it hasn't been updated in a few years. However, it is open source and lightweight, so it will take less space on your device. Unfortunately, the app is quite basic, lacking essential features like syncing options and backup.


• Open-source

• Does not require an account to operate

• Simple to use


• Lacks backup and syncing capabilities

2FA Authenticator

2FA Authenticator app works well with over 500 services. It generates one-time passcodes and comes with features such as push notifications and cloud backups for your registered accounts. Moreover, the app allows you to add your online accounts with a QR code or manually.

Unlike Authy, it doesn’t require you to provide your phone number or create an account to get started. This means that you won’t be at risk to SIM-swapping fraud.

You can create a PIN to access the app or use FaceID/TouchID with iPhone. In addition, the company provides a test page on its website to check if the one-time codes are generated correctly.


• Multiple backup options

• Straightforward to use

• Login security


• Limited documentation


andOTP is an excellent free app for generating HMAC one-time passwords (HOTP) and time-based one-time passwords (TOTP). Fortunately, it is open-source and supports encrypted backups.

The app is easy to use and offers essential security features like a 'panic button' that deletes all authentication tokens if there is an emergency. Also, it has a tap-to-reveal feature to display one-time passwords. But unfortunately, andOTP is only available for Android devices.



• Open-source

• Login security

• Supports HOTP


• Doesn't have an app for iOS

LastPass Authenticator

You are probably familiar with the LastPass Password Manager, one of the best in the market. The LastPass Authenticator is developed by the same company and is compatible with Android as well as iOS devices. The app offers six-digit generated passcodes as well as push notifications and SMS codes.


• Encrypted backup

• Compatible with smartwatches

• Push notification


• Lacks some features

Authenticator apps alternatives


This type of identity verification can include retina scans or voice recognition. Although secure, the biggest mishap is trusting the providers with your biological data.

Text and email codes

This is a popular method of account verification. However, the major disadvantage is that the security texts can be intercepted if your device or SIM card is stolen or compromised. Also, the security codes can be stolen by people closer to you if the notifications appear on your screen.

Hardware key

This is a small device like the size of a thumb drive that uses your fingerprint for authentication across different accounts. The biggest problem is losing the hardware key. In addition, portability is an issue, making it difficult to authenticate your accounts on the go.

The more MFA layers, the better

While authenticator apps are convenient, you should explore other 2FA options to secure your account access. Although some alternatives may have downsides, having multiple layers will make your accounts more secure.