How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

With high profile hacking cases increasing, it is imperative to prioritize security and privacy. Strong passwords are no longer sufficient. That’s why 2FA (two-factor authentication) was developed to provide an extra layer of security, and it has been successful so far.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Like most people, I use a third-party app like Google Authenticator to generate OTPs for my accounts, including banking, foreign exchanges, and social media. While this works well, there are times when people lose their smartphones or can’t access them for 2FA. As Bruce Schneier said, security is a process, not a product. That’s why, when scanning 2FA QR codes, you also receive backup codes. Today, I’ll share simple, effective, and secure ways to back up these backup 2FA codes for emergencies.

1. Print It

While the world is going paperless, I suggest going the opposite way. Why? Wise men say we should do the opposite of what everyone else is doing to succeed in life! There are reasons to use paper though. It cannot be hacked or compromised unless someone breaks into your home. The chances are slim. When you scan a QR code with the Google Authenticator app, you will see the backup codes option. Print them on paper and store it somewhere safe. If you don’t have a printer, take a screenshot and print it at your office or a trustworthy friend’s place. But don’t go to a cyber cafe. This may seem feasible, but there are more secure ways to cover your bases. So continue reading about the other options.

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2. LastPass

LastPass is a password manager that securely stores passwords and important information on its cloud servers. It also offers a backup feature to protect your digital life. Similarly to Google Authenticator, you can use LastPass Authenticator to generate codes. However, LastPass Authenticator offers the additional capability to backup codes on its cloud servers, which will be prompted the first time you scan a QR code.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Just open the app, click on menu, and choose Settings. Enable Backup to LastPass to automate the process. So when you lose your smartphone or don’t have access to it, you can easily restore all the codes without having to rescan all the sites again.

I recently did that while switching smartphones and it was cumbersome.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do ItHow to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Download the app, log in to LastPass, and everything syncs right back in.

3. Authy

Google Authenticator offers a simple 2FA solution without a backup option. On the other hand, LastPass serves as both a password manager and 2FA authenticator. Authy, however, is solely focused on 2FA functionality.

Authy provides a convenient cloud backup feature for managing 2FA codes. This feature is especially useful if you misplace your smartphone or lose access to the local backup codes that you printed on paper during setup.

The process for enabling cloud backups in Authy is similar to LastPass. Simply open the Authy app, go to Accounts, and toggle on the Authenticator Backups option.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Just like LastPass, switching smartphones is now easy because all your codes and data are securely stored in the cloud. Peace of mind achieved.

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4. Secured Notes

Remember the backup codes we printed on paper in the first step? Paper is secure, but not portable in emergencies.

Password managers like LastPass and 1Password let you create secure notes. These notes are stored in the cloud and accessible through apps and browsers.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Password Managers rely on top-tier security measures, assuring that your notes are secure and accessible whenever needed. They are a superior choice compared to using paper.

5. Encrypted Notes

Are you paranoid like me? I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket. What if my LastPass account is compromised? I could lose everything, from passwords to notes and 2FA codes.

That’s why I store my backup codes in Evernote, but I keep it a secret. Evernote is a popular note-taking app in Silicon Valley for good reason. It’s packed with features and mostly free to use.

How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

Evernote is secure and password protected, but you can also encrypt your notes. To do this, create a new note and select the text for encryption. Then, right-click and choose Encrypt Selected Text. You’ll need to create a password and provide a passphrase hint. That’s it.

6. Two is a Company

This is what I personally use and recommend for password security. It only requires two smartphones and the process is simple. Open the 2FA page of a site that needs extra security. Scan the QR code with the Google Authenticator app on the first phone. But you’re not done yet. Scan the same code with the Google Authenticator app on your other phone. I used an Android and an iPhone.

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How to Backup 2FA Codes and Why You Must Do It

In case you are wondering, you can use the same Google account on both phones to use Google Authenticator. Now you should see the same codes being generated on both apps simultaneously. Confirm that before you move on.

So, even if you lose one of those phones, you can always rely on the other one. Unless you lose both together, then keep a jar for tears ready.

Backup 2FA Codes Now

While 2FA adds an extra layer of safety to our connected world, we must ensure we don’t lose our access and have a duplicate set of keys if needed.

Having a backup plan is crucial, so review it now. A recent LastPass report shows that only 55% of users would change passwords after being hacked. That’s absurd! Choose your password security tools wisely.

Next, do you use Firefox to browse and store passwords? Learn how to enable 2FA in Firefox to enhance its security.

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