I’ve been a fan of using multi/two factor authentication for anything that matters.
Thankfully, many sites these days are beginning to support using MFA, and many of them have standardized on OATH,
Google Authenticator, is one such OATH client app, implimenting TOTP (time based on time passsword).
OATH is a reasonaly good method of providing MFA, because it’s easy for the user to setup and pretty secure, and open, both for the client and server.
You can read all about how it works in RFC 6238, or wikipedia.
So, in a nut shell, we now have method that a client can generate a key, and a server than can authenticate that key.
Google Authenticator, being the client I use, as it supports adding the share key by simply reading a QR code, is great.
But, what if I loose my phone.. or want to use a second device.. or my computer? MFA of course, pretty much locks you out if you
loose your way to generate your TOTP..
Well, google provides you a number of static keys.. you can use.. but that’s not good enough for me.
So, I thought I’d see if I could backup google authenticator, and read the shared key from it. The answer to this is yes.
Here’s the technical details:
Backup Google Authenticator using Titanium Backup. This will generate 3 files on your SD card:
The file of intrest is:
In this tar.gz, you will find:
This is an SQLlite3 database, that contains each account you have added to google authenticator.
So, after opening it with sqllite3, IE:
tar -zxvf sdcard/TitaniumBackup/com.google.android.apps.authenticator2-DATE-TIME.tar.gz data/data/com.google.android.apps.authenticator2/./databases/databases
sqlite> select * from accounts;
to get a list of your keys.
Each key is base32 encoded.
So, to decode your key, you use:
>>> import base64
>>> base64.b16encode(base64.b32decode('THEKEYFROMTHESELECT', True))
Then this will output the key into base 16, which is the format that oathtool
You can then generate the token form your linux, computer.
Ensure you have the package: oath-toolkit
$ oathtool --totp BASE16KEY
will generate you the same key as google authentcator, provided the time is correct on your Linux system.
Note: Make sure you clear your bash history, if you don’t want your MFA key in your history. And of course,
only store it on encrypted storage.. including make sure your sdcard is secure/erased in some way.