Securing your cryptocurrency account is incredibly important. A vulnerable account is a prime target for a cryptocurrency thief. By and large, if a thief steals your crypto, you’re not getting it back, such is the way Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work.
Your crypto exchange account comes with a password. However, you can add to your security using a 2FA app. A 2FA app provides an extra layer of account protection and could make the difference when a thief comes calling.
Here are the best 2FA apps for crypto accounts, and why certain types of 2FA are better than others.
What Is 2FA?
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a login authentication method that requires two separate pieces of information. Instead of using just a password, the authentication process requires a second data input. The secondary data input can vary, such as an SMS code, biometric data, or physical hardware.
2FA comes in lots of forms. Adding a second layer of protection to your crypto accounts is a no brainer. Why not take an extra few seconds to unlock your account and reap the rewards of extra protection in case of a password breach or otherwise?
Is 2FA SMS Secure?
Here’s the thing: not all two-factor authentication is equal. All 2FA gives your account an extra layer of protection. However, some forms of 2FA are stronger than others. In recent years, scrutiny has fallen on SMS 2FA, even though it is one of the easiest 2FA methods.
First, how does SMS 2FA work? Well, you head to your favorite crypto exchange and tap in your unique password. Instead of logging you in immediately, the exchange delivers a single-use code to your smartphone (or legacy phone) via SMS. You enter the code on the exchange, and you can access your Bitcoin and wonderful altcoins.
So, why is SMS 2FA insecure?
There are two main reasons why 2FA over SMS is insecure:
- Sim Swap Attacks. Two-factor auth that uses SMS is susceptible to a SIM swap attack. SIM swap attacks switch out your SIM card into the smartphone of an attacker, routing any messages to their phone. If they request a 2FA code to unlock your crypto account, the 2FA SMS code will fall into their hands, and with it, your Bitcoin.
- SMS Intercepts. SMS interception is slightly rarer than a SIM swap attack, but not unheard of. An SMS interception attack exploits a vulnerability in the dated Signalling System No.7 (SS7) phone routing system, which was designed back in 1975. According to security and encryption expert Bruce Schneier, “If the attackers have access to an SS7 portal, they can forward your conversations to an online recording device.” The same issue is present with SMS.
These are the two main issues with 2FA via SMS. But don’t let that put you off. SMS 2FA is better than nothing, even if there are vulnerabilities in the system. Also, there are alternatives to SMS 2FA that you can check out below!
What Is a 2FA Authenticator App?
Okay, so a 2FA authenticator app is another form of two-factor authentication, but instead of using your phone number for delivery, the app is installed on your smartphone permanently. When you attempt to log into a crypto exchange or other site, you still receive a prompt for an extra authentication method.
Instead of receiving the 2FA code through an SMS, you open an app on your smartphone, like Authy or Google Authenticator. The authenticator app has no link to your phone number. If an attacker tries a SIM swap attack on your number, they will receive no 2FA SMS codes. The only way to access your 2FA codes via an authenticator app is to steal the smartphone physically or to install a malware variant that allows for remote screen viewing without notifying the user.
2FA apps generate unlock codes automatically, constantly updating and changing to make sure no one can access your account.
Authy vs. Google Authenticator: What’s the Best 2FA App?
There are several 2FA apps available to Android and iOS users. Google Authenticator and Authy are two of the most popular, but they’re not the only options. Let’s consider the best 2FA apps available.
1. Google Authenticator
Google Authenticator is Google’s 2FA app. The app is available to iOS and Android users, is completely free, and is one of the best 2FA apps available.
Using Google Authenticator is extremely simple. You download the app, enable 2FA on your crypto account, then scan the account QR code using the app. Google Authenticator imports your account data and starts generating codes.
Authy is a great alternative to Google Authenticator and is also available to both iOS and Android users. Authy has a bonus over most 2FA app alternatives: you can sync your accounts across multiple devices.
For the most part, if you want to get rid of your device, you need to backup and transfer your 2FA app details manually. It can take a long time, and things can go wrong. Similarly, if someone steals your phone, your 2FA codes and accounts go with it. Authy negates that issue with a secure backup system. It means you can transfer your Authy 2FA accounts across devices for ease of use.
The downside to this system is that you must trust Authy with your backups. Authy encrypts everything and has had no security issues, but it is another security step to consider. Furthermore, you must not forget your Authy passcode. The passcode is the encryption unlock key. Without it, everything will remain out of reach—forever.
3. LastPass Authenticator
LastPass Authenticator is the 2FA app of LastPass, the password management app. Incidentally, using a password manager like LastPass will help you use much stronger and unique passwords for every account, boosting your security.
Back to the 2FA app. LastPass Authenticator features the usual crypto account QR scans and account logging. The app is easy to navigate and has the bonus of integrating with several sites (no crypto sites, unfortunately, but 2FA is useful everywhere in your digital life!).
Secure Crypto Accounts with 2FA
You should always use 2FA to secure your crypto accounts with two-factor authentication. It takes moments to do, seconds to unlock, and could keep your Bitcoin investment safe.
There is no clear leader in the crypto world, regarding the best 2FA app. Google Authenticator is always a popular choice because it receives frequent updates and carries the Google name. But the alternatives, such as Authy and LastPass Authenticator, are secure and have their positives, too.
The most important thing to remember is that 2FA is a vital tool in your security arsenal. Although some critics may knock 2FA for its vulnerabilities, having 2FA enabled is the smart option. It could help you avoid some of the most common cryptocurrency scams. Once a crypto scam completes, you cannot get your Bitcoin back.
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