Check out these features from Authy and Google Authenticator before deciding which authentication tool is best for you.

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto, Suebsiri

The number of businesses affected due to data breaches has risen over the years. This shows that passwords alone do not provide enough security for your applications and online accounts. With both small and big businesses being victims of these data leaks and security violations, software engineers developed authentication security measures to ensure zero trust security for all businesses. Authy and Google Authenticator are two popular two-factor authentication (2FA) tools now circulating in the market.

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What is Authy?

Twilio’s Authy is a free multi-device support app for two-factor authentication. Authy strengthens your online security by sending a one-time password (OTP) to your mobile or desktop device, directly syncing with the website or service to grant you access.

Apart from sending the OTP to your device, Authy also utilizes soft tokens or time-based one-time passwords (TOTP), which can be generated even when your device is not connected to the data network. In addition, the Authy authenticator app also supports tighter security measures with its push authentication solution that adds advanced protection capabilities to your account.

What is Google Authenticator?

Google Authenticator is a free authenticator app for iOS and Android for two-factor authentication. As one of the leading authentication apps, it has gained wider adoption by many websites and applications.

With Google Authenticator, all you need is to enable the app on your device and take a snapshot of the Quick Response code (QR code) it generates. Then, your device is synced to the app. Like other dual-factor authentication tools, Google Authenticator enables the generation of time-based codes on the app to gain access to an online account.

Authy vs. Google Authenticator: Feature comparison

Authy and Google Authenticator are leading tools that offer the ability to secure data via two-factor authentication. Authy provides advanced security capabilities along with multi-device platform support, which allows users to guarantee data security across many devices. Comparatively, Google Authenticator offers a simple and easy-to-use application that is ideal for those without the need for all the robust options provided by Authy.

Feature Authy Google Authenticator
Multi-device platform support Yes. Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux and Apple Watch No. Android and iOS
Security capabilities Yes Yes
Works offline Yes Yes
Backups and synchronization Yes. Automatic synchronization across authorized devices Yes. Manual accounts transfer from one device to another
Supported authentication OTP via SMS or voice call two-factor authentication.
TOTP generated in the app.
Push notifications triggered when accessing the registered site.
No OTP.
TOTP generated in the app.
HOTP generated in the app.

Backups and synchronization

Authy allows you to backup data and syncs your two-factor authentication account tokens across numerous devices such as mobile phones, tablets and desktops. The backup feature of the app, which is one of its most important features, supports the encryption and recovery of backed up accounts from their server. As long as you enable the multi-device feature in the Authy authenticator app, there is no fear about getting back your Authy tokens, even when you lose your device.

While Google Authenticator allows users to transfer their accounts to a new device, the old device must be available for this to work. This is because the Google authenticator app does not encrypt backups on the server as Authy does.

Security capabilities

It is critical that your authenticator app is protected with a pin or password to avoid situations where bad actors can easily access the app. To this measure, Authy uses a PIN and biometric authentication system to secure data from unauthorized use. This ensures that anyone without your Authy password or pin will not have access to the tokens generated from the app. Authy also encrypts all backups, ensuring your data is safe from hackers. In addition, if a user loses their device, cloud-based backups enable them to access their credentials safely on another device with ease.

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

While Google Authenticator offers quality security, it misses out on this important security feature. If a device is lost or stolen, Google Authenticator can put your data in danger because it lacks passcodes or biometric sign-on alternatives to prevent an unauthorized user from gaining access.

Multi-device support

Authy authentication app allows you to sync your accounts across multiple devices. Whether you use a device running on iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, or Windows, Authy works across all. In addition, this authenticator app works well on desktop and mobile devices.

However, the same cannot be said about Google Authenticator, which is built and supported only on mobile devices. iOS and Android are the two operating systems compatible with Google authenticator.

Choosing between Authy and Google Authenticator

Whether you run a small business or a conglomerate, some situations warrant the need to grant employees access to essential systems and information. But granting access to sensitive information without additional security measures can be unsettling. Thus, using 2FA can help businesses make remote access to organizational data safe and secure.

While Authy and Google Authenticator are two top authenticator apps anyone can rely on, certain factors should be considered before adopting them. Google Authenticator is a good choice for anyone seeking a straightforward and easy-to-use tool. At the same time, users who prefer a higher protection level in the two-factor authentication process can do the same. However, keep in mind that anyone who can crack the phone can get access to your Google Authenticator app.

Authy, on the other hand, improves the security of authentication codes by allowing users to PIN-protect the app. Furthermore, Authy is ideal for customers that switch phones regularly or want the program to be synchronized across numerous devices. Because all data is encrypted, your codes will not be stolen as they move between the device and the cloud.