May 7, 2020

Introducing portability of Google Authenticator 2SV codes across Android devices

Today is World Password Day, and we found it fitting to release an update that'll make it even easier for users to manage Google Authenticator 2-Step Verification (2SV) codes across multiple devices. We are introducing one of the most anticipated features - allowing users to transfer their 2SV secrets, the data used to generate 2SV codes across devices that have Google Authenticator installed. For instance, when upgrading from an old phone to a new phone. This feature has started rolling out and is available in the latest version (5.10) of Google Authenticator on Android.

Transferring accounts from one device to another with Google Authenticator

Using 2SV, 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is critical to protecting your accounts from unauthorized access. With these mechanisms, users verify their identity through their password and an additional proof of identity, such as a security key or a passcode.

Google Authenticator makes it easy to use 2SV on accounts. In addition to supplying only a password when logging in, a user also enters a code generated by the Google Authenticator app on their phone. This is a safer alternative, used by millions of users, compared to passcodes via text message.

Users place their trust in Google Authenticator to keep their accounts safe. As a result, security is always a high priority. We made several explicit design decisions to minimize the attack surface while increasing the overall usability of the app. 
  • We ensured that no data is sent to Google’s servers during the transfer -- communication is directly between your two devices. Your 2SV secrets can’t be accessed without having physical access to your phone and the ability to unlock it.
  • We implemented a variety of alerting mechanisms and in-app logs to make sure users are aware when the transfer function has been used.

You can find more information about the Google Authenticator and its usage guide here.

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