Leave ‘big tech’ 2FA password apps for more privacy with these great new Open Source alternatives

Keeping your online accounts and personal information secure is crucial in today’s digital world. Two-factor authentication (2FA) has become an essential security measure, and one common method involves using an authenticator app to generate time-based one-time passwords (TOTPs).


While big tech companies like Google and Microsoft offer well-known authenticator apps, many privacy-conscious users have raised concerns due to their closed-source nature, which conceals their source code (the inner workings of how the software works, and how it accomplishes its end results) from public scrutiny. A concern is that these companies could be snooping on our passwords, a disturbing yet very real possibility.


Fortunately, the open-source community has responded with several impressive authenticator alternatives that prioritize user privacy. Apps like Keepass2Android, Aegis Authenticator, android-oath-token, and FreeOTP have gained popularity among those seeking transparent and auditable (verifiable) solutions. These are fully open-source, meaning, we can see the source code and know exactly what they do on our devices.


And now, Bitwarden has released what promises to be a great addition, with their new Authenticator app for Android and iOS. As an open-source offering, it generates TOTPs locally on your device while aiming to include all the modern conveniences users expect.


The Benefits of Open-Source Authenticators


Proprietary apps from tech giants are widespread but closed-source, meaning their code is a black box, potentially hiding vulnerabilities. Open-source apps, on the other hand, allow the code to be inspected and improved by anyone, fostering greater transparency and community-driven development.


Bitwarden Authenticator: Combining Privacy and Practicality


Currently, Bitwarden’s new authenticator app boasts a straightforward, user-friendly interface comparable to its competitors. However, it’s missing some features like encrypted exports and syncing to Bitwarden’s cloud service.


But the developers have already shared an ambitious roadmap to address these shortcomings. Notably, they plan to add Bitwarden account syncing, which would make it a full-featured, open-source alternative to Authy. Encrypted backups and password manager integration are also on the roadmap.


Prioritizing Transparency and User Privacy


You can download Bitwarden Authenticator now for Android on the Play Store and iOS on the App Store. The source code is also openly available on GitHub for those interested in contributing or auditing the project themselves, to verify the integrity of the source code.


As digital privacy becomes increasingly vital, open-source authenticator apps offer a refreshingly transparent and user-focused alternative to Big Tech’s closed ecosystems. Bitwarden’s new authenticator, alongside other privacy-centric options, demonstrates the open-source community’s commitment to practical solutions without compromising ethics and user privacy.