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Alternatives to Mobile Device Auth Factors

Mobile devices have quickly become ubiquitous in modern working environments. So much so, that including them as part of a user’s authentication experience has become the standard. Initially there were simple, time-based one-time passcodes (TOTP) sent via text messaging (SMS). More secure methods are becoming commonplace as well – mostly in the form of mobile apps providing TOTP codes or push requests. 

What about environments without mobile devices? 

  • Unionized environments where employers cannot compel users to use their personal devices 

  • Government/high-security environments where mobile devices are not permitted 

  • Computer-based exams where mobile devices cannot be used 

Each of these situations has a strong case for needing the enhanced security that MFA can provide. The question of the day is, what options are available when mobile devices are not an option? 

  • Voice call – User will receive a phone call on their landline and a one-time passcode (OTP) will be spoken out to them similar to SMS TOTP codes. 


  • Yubikey – This is a USB or NFC hardware token-based factor that can be used to deliver TOTP codes for MFA. 


  • WebAuthN – Uses native device biometrics such as Windows Hello or Touch ID (Face ID or Fingerprint ID). 


  • Custom OTP – Use a desktop OTP calculator that calculates OTP codes based on a seed value. These require 3rd party apps to calculate TOTP codes (e.g. Authy


  • TypingDNA 2FA Authenticator – Utilize typing pattern biometrics. TypingDNA offers a free Chrome/Edge browser extension to generate TOTP codes that would otherwise be provided by the Google Authenticator mobile app. YouTube Demo 


  • Okta Verify Desktop – Provides a level of device trust between the desktop and Okta.  This is the foundation for Okta FastPass and is also typically teamed with native device biometrics.  


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