Security/hacking got you a little freaked? Moving to Two Factor Auth? Looking for a WP8.x "Google Authenticator App"? Microsoft has got your back...
We all know the strong competition between Microsoft and Google and how ruthless it is at times. Because of it, Google has chosen not to develop Windows Phone apps for most of its services. Therefore, the Google Authenticator app that's requested by many services for two-step verification is missing from Windows Phone. Since two-step verification is a very common method for securing all kinds of accounts, being able to use a Google Authenticator clone on Windows Phone is very important. Fortunately for us Windows Phone users, Microsoft has our backs and they have developed their own Authenticator app and published it for free. Here's how it works:
Why So Many Websites & Services Ask You to Install the Google Authenticator App?
Because Google was one of the first big tech companies to implement two-step verification for their customer's accounts. They also developed a Google Authenticator app that's available on almost all mobile platforms except those developed by Microsoft. Since Android is so huge in terms of market share, the Google Authenticator app has become a standard in people's minds and everyone recommends that you use it.
Technically speaking, there's nothing special about this app because it uses a documented standard for two-step authentication: the Time-based One-time Password Algorithm (TOTP). Therefore anyone can make an app using the same algorithm.
According to this standard, the Authenticator app provides a random six digits one-time password that you enter in addition to your username and password, to log in to all kinds of services, including Google's and Microsoft's services. This six digits password is valid for 30 seconds. If an attacker steals it then, within 30 seconds, it will be useless. This is great from a security perspective.
When a website mentions using a Google Authenticator app, don't despair. You don't really need Google's app, only an app that uses the same algorithm to generate passwords.
Where to Find Microsoft's Authenticator App
On the Windows Phone Store, if you search for Google Authenticator, you will find lots of apps made by different developers and companies. Some of them are not even free. Most probably they work just as well, because they use the same standard as Google does but why use them if you have a free app, developed and actively maintained by Microsoft?
In the Windows Phone Store, search for Authenticator and tap the app made by Microsoft Corporation. You will find it here: Authenticator.
With all the hacking/etc. news I decided it was time to finally make the move to Two Factor Auth. Yeah, I know I'm a little behind (little?) but, hey every journey begins with the first step, etc.
Today I was looking for a Windows Phone app to help with a site that uses Google Auth. Well there isn't one, at least from Google. But, as you've seen above, we don't need no stink'n Google Auth App! The Microsoft Auth app works just fine. And I've confirmed that, it does indeed work just fine and is really easy to setup and use.
In short, if you've not made the move to Two Factor, it's really not that scary at all. Do it... DO it... DO IT!