Authentication with YubiKey vs SMS vs Google Authenticator

Jun 15, 2021

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) can offer important benefits for both companies and individual users, although the technology can seem complex and the tools themselves vary. It's important to be aware of the security features that come with 2FA-enabled devices. The following is the authentication process using YubiKey vs SMS vs Google Authenticator.

1. YubiKey

Pro :
a. Works independently
b. One key to secure unlimited applications
c. Excellent support for users
d. Ease of use

Cons :
a. Some sites are not really supported by YubiKey
b. Easy to lose

Using YubiKey with two factor authentication

Enter username and password

Insert YubiKey Touch/tap device

2. SMS

Pro :
a. Open Source
b. Works with Offline Mode 
c. One Time Password
d. Easy to use

Cons :
a. Verification code can be shared
b. Can only be used on mobile

Using SMS with two factor authentication

Enter username and password

 Check incoming verification sms  Insert the verification code into the app Login successful


3. Google Authenticator

Pro :
a. TOTP algorithm
b. Works without Internet access
c. Holds multiple accounts in one place
d. Easy to use

Cons :
a. User Interface
b. Too few accounts on the screen

Using Google Authenticator with two factor authentication

Enter username and password

 Open the Google Authenticator app Insert the verification code at login
Login successful

Comparison table 2 Factor Authentication using yubikey vs sms vs Google Authenticator

  YubiKey SMS Google Authenticator
Security Functions
Multiple Token -
Desktops -
Passwordless - -
RDM Integration -
Many Applications - -
Physical device - -
Offline Mode 
Personalization Tool - -
Open Source -


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