I’ve long recommended the use of authenticator smart phone apps because they make using two-factor authentication easy. But with LastPass getting into the game, we now have an authenticator app that works identically across all platforms. That’s right. It works on Android and iPhone, naturally. But LastPass Authenticator also works on Windows phones.
Not clear on two-factor authentication and why you immediately need to enable it on every single one of your online accounts? Then please—please—read Tip: Protect Your Online Accounts with Two-Factor Authentication immediately. This is basic and important stuff. You need to be doing this, no exceptions.
The short version:
Two-factor authentication improves the security of your online account—any Microsoft account, including Hotmail and Outlook.com, Gmail, Dropbox, Twitter and many others—by adding a second “factor” to the authentication process used to prove that you are you. For those consumer-oriented online accounts, the first factor is always your password. The second factor is usually a code generated by a smart phone app, or sent via text message to your smart phone.
To date, I’ve recommended Google Authenticator on Android/iOS, Microsoft Authenticator on Windows Phones, and Microsoft Account on Android for generating that second factor. The Microsoft and Google Authenticator apps work similarly, pumping out 6-digit security codes for all of your connected accounts on a revolving basis. But Microsoft Account (only available on Android for some reason) is the best of the lot: That one lets you “OK” security checks via a pop-up notification, so there’s no need to read and then type in security codes. (The downside: That capability is only available for Microsoft accounts.)
But now LastPass—a known and trusted company that creates the best password manager on the market—has created its own authenticator app, the imaginatively named LastPass Authenticator. Should you switch?
Honestly, there’s no reason to switch, as it works just like the Google and Microsoft Authenticator apps. But the one thing I really like about LastPass Authenticator is that it’s available on all three of the biggest mobile platforms—Android, iPhone/iOS, and Windows phones—and that it works consistently across all three as well.
LastPass Authenticator also supports the pop-up notification style of approving an authentication request, which I find to be the best/easiest way of doing this. But there’s one big downside: That only works with LastPass accounts. If you need a code for your Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, or other account, you’re still going to be typing in a code. (The nice thing is that that actually works. With the Microsoft Account app on Android, you can onlyuse Microsoft accounts; the LastPass Authenticator app also generates codes for non-LastPass accounts.)
I switched over to LastPass Authenticator. If you’re interested in doing so, here are the links.
Download LastPass Authenticator for Android
LastPass Authenticator for iPhone/iOS
Download LastPass Authenticator for Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile
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