2FA? OTP? Why do I need an app for that?

One hand holding smartphone while other hand types on laptop keyboard
The authenicator app on your smartphone generates a one-time code for the 2FA login

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is about boosting your inbox security by adding a second verification step to your email login process. And this second factor is a six-digit security code that you not only use to activate two-factor authentication, but also to log in once 2FA has been set up. This security code is also called an “OTP,” and it’s generated by an app that you install on your smartphone.

 

You may be interested in using mail.com’s new 2FA security feature, but aren’t quite sure about this OTP app – what it’s all about and which one to install. So we’re here to fill in any blanks and give you a few recommendations for suitable apps.

What does OTP mean?

The acronym “OTP stands for “one-time password” – which, logically enough, is a code or password that you can only use once before it expires. To be precise (which we always strive to be!), mail.com uses a “TOTP,” or “time-based one-time password” for our two-factor authentication process. This means that the password is only valid for a limited time, usually 30 seconds. If it’s not used within this window of time, it also expires and a new one is automatically generated by the system.

What kind of app do I need for 2FA?

For two-factor authentication, you need a six-digit OTP generated using a third-party app that you install on your mobile device. These apps go by several different names, like authenticator app, authentication app and OTP app. Their purpose is to generate the codes you need for login processes. So if you want to activate 2FA for your mail.com account, you must first have an authenticator app on your smartphone. You install it just as you would any other app: via the app store that you normally use on your phone.

Good to know: These authentication apps work without being connected to the internet, so once you have it installed you can generate a security code whenever you need one, even if you can’t connect to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.

Free authenticator apps

There are currently several reliable and secure authenticator apps available for you to download for free. The tech whizzes in our team have put together a list of their favorites for you to use on your Android or iOS smartphone (the links take you to the download page of the app in question):

Of course there are many other authentication apps out there to choose from. Simply go to your app store of choice and search for “authentication”, “authenticator”, or “OTP” to find an extensive selection. Or visit our Help Center page for additional suggestions.

We hope this post cleared up any questions you had about OTPs and authenticator apps. If you found it helpful, please give us a thumbs-up below!

Photo: Shutterstock

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