Mobility

Let Authy handle your Android two-step authentication

If you're looking to secure multiple sites with Google two-step authentication, Jack Wallen introduces you to a handy, must-have tool called Authy.

Android security

Securing your device and data should be at the top of every mobile users to-do list. One crucial element of mobile security is two-step authentication — a far more secure means of keeping your data safe from prying eyes. For those sites and services that support two-step authentication, having a single tool to handle that would be a boon for many users. That's exactly what Authy is. With this easy-to-use app, you can enable two-step verification on any service that takes advantage of Google authentication (such as Gmail, Dropbox, Lastpass, and Amazon Web Services).

So, if you're hoping for an easier means for two-step authentication, let's install Authy and see if it meets that need.

Installation

To begin the installation process, you have to download the app. Here's how:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for Authy
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Authy Inc
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read through the permissions listing
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept

Once you've installed the app, launch it, and you'll be presented with an account setup screen (Figure A). Enter your country code and phone number, and then tap OK. You'll be asked if you want the registration code sent via phone or SMS. When you receive that code, enter it (when prompted), and the account will be complete.

Figure A

Figure A

Registering Authy on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.

Next, you need to set a password for secure backups (backups of your account information). Enter (and confirm) your password, and tap ENABLE BACKUPS (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Creating a password for secure backups.

Usage

Now that Authy is installed, how does you use the app? First, for the account in question (we'll use Dropbox as an example), you must have two-step authentication enabled. From within Dropbox, go to Settings | Security and click to enable Two-step Authentication (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

Enabling two-step authentication in Dropbox.

Once you click enable, you'll have to walk through a simple setup wizard for two-step authentication on Dropbox. Complete that, and you'll be presented with QR code within Dropbox. Open up the Authy app, tap the plus sign [+] to add an account. Tap the SCAN QR CODE button (Figure D), and then scan the QR code from the Dropbox two-step setup.

Figure D

Figure D

Adding an account on Authy.

Give the account a name and tap Done. At this point, on the main window, your accounts will be listed in tabs — in each tab will be a time-based security token you can use to gain access to that account. You get 30 seconds with each token. When you attempt to gain access to that site or service, you'll prompted for a security token. Enter the newest token from Authy, and you should instantly be given access to your account. Without that token, you cannot gain access to the site.

I've been using the Google Authenticator for two-step authentication for my Google Account. Having the ability to add that extra layer of security to other accounts makes using Authy a necessity. Now, I only need one tool to rule all of my two-step authentication.

Do you employ two-step authentication? If not, what tools do you use to keep your data safe? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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