Microsoft Authenticator is an app that enables two-factor authentication on supported apps and websites. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is much harder to bypass than just adding a password to your account. As a result, many cybersecurity companies recommend setting up 2FA for all of the services you use.
2FA is a mechanism by which services require users to verify their identity using two different methods. For example, apps that support 2FA may want you to provide a one-time passcode (OTP) in addition to your account password.
Setting up two-factor verification with Microsoft Authenticator is pretty easy. Let's take a look.
Download and install Microsoft Authenticator
To start the process, download and install the Microsoft Authenticator app from your phone's app store. While downloading the app, make sure you have a Microsoft account as you will need one to use Microsoft Authenticator.
It only takes a few minutes to sign up for a Microsoft account. So if you don't already have one, create one now on Microsoft's website.
After you've installed Microsoft Authenticator, open it and sign in with your Microsoft account. During sign-in, the app will ask you to verify your identity using secondary methods that you set up when you created your Microsoft account. Choose the method you set and follow the instructions. For example, if you're using a phone number as a secondary method, click on it and enter the verification code that was sent to your number.
The Microsoft Authenticator is now active.
One last thing to keep in mind before we get into the app: you'll need to log into your account every time you want to change security settings. When Microsoft Authenticator is running, you will get a notification on your phone to open and enter your phone's lock screen passcode.
Download: Microsoft Authenticator for Android | iOS (free)
Use Microsoft Authenticator to set up 2FA on a Microsoft account
To set up two-factor authentication for your Microsoft account, go to the Microsoft account website and sign in.
Next, navigate to Settings> Advanced security options> Additional security and enable two-step verification.
Before you can turn on two-step verification, you need to make sure that your account's security information is up to date. Follow the instructions on the screen to make sure everything is okay. Press Next when you're done.
Make a note of the recovery code that appears on the screen, write it down somewhere and press Next again.
Finally, set up other apps by following the on-screen instructions. If you are using Outlook on an Android phone, press Next again. Otherwise, follow the on-screen instructions to generate a passcode for apps that don't support two-factor authentication. Then click Next again.
After you are done with the setups, press End.
You'll need to sign in again now, so do that.
If you don't want to enable two-factor authentication, you can enable a passwordless option for your Microsoft account. The option uses the Microsoft Authenticator app to sign you in. After switching on, you do not have to remember the password and can only log in with your phone.
Two-factor authentication is more secure … but not foolproof
With security breaches and ransomware attacks at an all-time high, login methods like two-factor authentication are critical to protecting your online identity. These methods provide an extra layer of security on top of your password.
However, two-factor authentication is not foolproof. For example, sophisticated phishing scams can trick you into revealing two-factor credentials.
To combat this, you need to follow best practices to strengthen your online security. For example, set strong passwords, don't use the same password for all of your accounts, and don't visit dodgy websites, among other things.
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About the author
(68 published articles)
Fawad is a full-time freelance writer. He loves technology and food. When he's not eating or typing on Windows, he's either playing video games or dreaming of traveling.
By Fawad Murtaza
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