How to avoid giving your phone number for two-step authentication

There is often a big dilemma among users: that of refusing to provide their phone number to Mark Zuckerberg and company, and that of needing it for two-step authentication. There are some alternatives.

Security or privacy? Both Facebook and Twitter - which recently recognized it as an involuntary error and correcting the error - have admitted that they allow companies to access the phone numbers registered on their sites by users. Many had provided this personal information to allow two-factor authentication (2FA), that process in which a website sends you a text message to verify that it is really you who is logging in.

In this new era of communication 4.0 our telephone numbers have become powerful tools for identification and tracking. In some cases, it is too late to prevent large social platforms from using our phone number. Facebook only deletes this data from the records if you delete your entire account and Twitter requires it for two-step authentication.

If you want to shield your privacy online without neglecting your security, we want to talk to you about a second method of 2FA that does not imply providing your mobile number. These are the free applications that can generate short-term codes to verify your identity and access the platforms, just as you would with a code sent via SMS.

Alternatives at hand: authentication apps

You can bet on alternatives such as Authy, a free application for Android, iOS, Windows and macOS that is characterized by its intuitive use. After registering your Authy account with the websites you use, the application backs up your two-factor authentication configuration log in the cloud and synchronizes it on several devices, making it easy to log in even if your Smartphone is broken or lost.

Other options you can use are the authentication alternatives provided by Google, LastPass and Microsoft, as well as password managers such as 1Password and Dashlane. There are also websites and apps that facilitate this task by replacing codes with push notifications. When you log in to a website, you receive an alert in the authentication app and press a button to confirm your identity. If you want to know which sites accept 2FA based on apps you can check the list available in Two Factor Auth.

And a third way ... Google Voice

For years, Google has allowed people to get free virtual phone numbers that can receive calls and text messages as a real number. You can access it online or forward messages to another phone. Using them to authenticate in two steps and opening a new account on various platforms and social networks is an excellent way to make sure that the company does not have your real phone number forever, in addition to avoiding annoying commercial calls or advertising.

Although Google requires you to provide a real phone number when you sign up for Google Voice. you can delete it in the configuration section after finishing configuring the service, although that means you will not be able to forward messages or calls to that number. Unlike Facebook, Google at least states that it will comply with users' requests to delete their data.