No longer are you limited to using your smartphone to use Google’s two-step authentication. There are many apps that you can use easily on your desktop to help keep your accounts more secure.
Keep in mind, though, that using a two-step authenticator app is less secure on your computer. Anyone who has access to your desktop can get your security key and log into your account. But if you don’t own a smartphone, using a program on your computer is better than nothing.
To use any of these apps to secure your accounts, you need to make sure you go through the usual process to enable two-factor authentication on Google or activate any other services that need two-factor authentication. Instead of entering the key into a mobile app, all you do is to enter it on your desktop.
1. GAuth Authenticator
This Chrome app generates tokens for multi-factor authentication which works with sites such as Amazon Dreamhost, Dropbox and Gmail. All you need to do is enter your secret code for whichever account you want to have two-factor authentication. This app will then generate a six character key which you can use when prompted. GAuth Authenticator warns you that you need to make sure that your desktop and phone are synched or else this app will not work.
Rest assured that no data is transmitted with this app, and all keys are stored locally.
You can use Authy on Mac, Linux or Windows, where it keeps your tokens on your computer and helps to prevent phishing attacks. All you need to do is remember one master password, and this app will encrypt your account when your computer is idle, lost or stolen. Authy also warns you if there are possible phishing attacks when you are using a token. Another great feature is that this app will sync across all your devices should you want to use your mobile devices.
This Chrome app doubles as a QR code reader, and your data automatically syncs with your Google Account if you are logged in. Authenticator uses Content Secure Policy (CSP) to ensure that this app will not send data to anyone, including the author. All you need to do to add your accounts is click on the “add” button and select the corresponding QR code to do so.
4. Windows Authenticator
This app can be used for many common sites and has the ability to be used with Bitcoin trading websites (including BTC-e, Coinbase, Cryptsy and Bitstamp) and gaming sites such as Battle.net (games such as Hearthstone, Diablo III, and World of Warcraft), Guild Wars 2, RuneScape, Glyph and WildStar. All data is encrypted with a password you choose and can be locked to your machine or Windows account. You can even have additional password protection per each authenticator you have. Other features include displaying multiple authenticators at the same time, hot-key binding with custom or standard actions, and codes refreshed or displayed automatically.
Just because you don’t own or want to use your mobile device doesn’t mean you can’t keep your accounts extra secure. With these apps, you can use Google Authenticator on your desktop easily and effortlessly.