Two-factor authentication, aka 2FA. It is one of the best-proven ways of reducing cybersecurity breaches by providing an additional layer of security in the form of identification, preventing hackers from gaining access to your endpoint devices or sensitive data.
Today, the market is full of tons of 2FA authenticator apps, such that choosing the best option can be a tough decision. Thankfully, different apps have varying features and capabilities, which you can compare and contrast to go with the most endowed one.
In this in-depth article, we’ll focus on two of the market’s most popular authenticators – Microsoft and Google authenticators. To help set them apart and determine which one is more superior to the other, we’ll lock them head-on on multiple accounts by expounding on their shared and dissimilar features. But first, let’s have a basic understanding of the two authenticators.
Microsoft Authenticator is Microsoft’s brainchild, and it serves as a security software-based app for two-factor authentication. You may, intentionally or accidentally, come across the app when updating your Microsoft account settings or enabling 2FA. Or perhaps you may just need two-factor authentication to bolster your security posture. Either way, Microsoft Authenticator is an excellent solution for reducing cyber fraud by providing an extra security layer to your devices and valuable information.
The app was initially launched in June 2016 and is available in iOS and Android versions. And you’ll be amazed by how effortless it is to use the authenticator. All you have to do is sign in to your account (which will ask for a 6-digit code), and the app generates the code almost immediately. And the best part? It works across multiple platforms way quicker and more efficient than text or email codes.
Google Authenticator is a software-based two-step verification platform that was initially released in September 2010. The free security app takes pride in protecting accounts against password theft, thus leading the fight against cybersecurity breaches. Google Authenticator is also available for Android and iOS users, and it works perfectly for any service or site that has enabled 2FA.
Using Google’s 2FA is a no-brainer; you simply need to sign in to your account by providing your username and password then entering a one-time 6-digit passcode automatically generated by the authenticator upon your attempt to log in. Combining the two (password and code) confirms that the same person entering the login details possesses the device where the authenticator app was downloaded. Thus, a hacker cannot access your account even if they manage to crack your password.
Both Google and Microsoft authenticator apps are feature-packed and tailor-made to help you access your accounts more securely, especially when viewing sensitive data. Let’s expound on the features common on both apps before looking at the differences.
Besides providing two-step verification to Microsoft and Google accounts, both authenticators can also be used for other websites and other web-based services like Facebook, Dropbox, Email, GitHub, etc. This makes them abundantly resourceful, ensuring that virtually all your endpoint device activities are well protected.
Both software security solutions work perfectly on Android and iOS – two of the market’s most popular operating systems. That means that the apps are accessible to virtually any smartphone or tablet device owner.
Both authenticator apps are built on a time-based one-time passcode or TOTP system that helps generate unpredictable security codes. For instance, Google Authenticator’s TOTP algorithm generates a 6-digit code that factors in the time of the day to ensure that the passcode is unique at any given time. On the flip side, Microsoft Authenticator’s TOTP generates a 6-digit code by snapping a QR Code, which is also unique for different accounts. Further, it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft accounts by enabling one-tap notifications.
Both authenticators include a link for Help, where users can reach out to the support team 24/7 for assistance with various issues concerning the app. You’ll love the fact that the client support representatives are overly courteous and professional. Besides, they both have comprehensive online resources, such as setup guides, that you can reference for self-help.
Microsoft Authenticator backs up all your account data online such that you don’t need to start afresh if you get a new phone. After installing the app on your new device, you’re given the option to recover your data by simply signing in to your Microsoft account. However, we can’t say the same about Google Authenticator. In case you need to get a new device, for whatever reason, you must go through the process of adding all your accounts all over again because the app lacks an online backup for your account passcodes.
Microsoft Authenticator comes with password management capabilities in a separate tab at the bottom of the app’s interface. This enables users to set up the authenticator on multiple accounts and devices simultaneously since all the passcodes are synced and encrypted through the cloud. On the flip side, the Google Authenticator app neither has password management or generation capabilities as it lacks the option to sync 2FA codes.
Microsoft Authenticator can support one account across multiple devices, but Google Authenticator can’t. This gives the former the edge over the latter because you can still use other devices to safely and securely access your favorite accounts.
In essence, both Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator have a primary objective of providing next-level security to users’ accounts. And they work almost similarly towards that cause. However, it’s unfair not to recognize Microsoft’s more advanced features. From the ability to backup account codes to the possibility to sync one account across multiple devices, Microsoft Authenticator is slightly more advanced than its closest market rival. All the same, they’re both fantastic 2FA solutions that are highly efficient and reliable in terms of functionality.
At 365 Technologies, we’re a team of knowledgeable, professional, and certified technicians with immense experience in cybersecurity solutions. Among other services, we help businesses with 24/7 security monitoring, security management, backup and disaster recovery, and 2FA authentication setup. Schedule a FREE consultation today, and let us review your organization’s cybersecurity readiness and help with all your security needs!