Generating Authenticator QR Codes

A 2 minute read, Posted on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 In Technology
Tags qrcode, security, tips, technology

I’ve taken to saving my Authenticator secrets so that I can recover from a lost, damaged or replaced phone with less pain. After actually replacing a phone and having to re-enter all my codes I decided there was a better way then pecking on the phone’s keyboard one letter at a time. I thought that they deliver them to me as a QR code I can scan in the first place, surely I can generate my own to speed up the process.

Well, turns out I can, but it took me a while to find the relevant information. It’s been a while since I did this, but I just helped a friend do the same and remembered some of these pain points and thought I’d share it with the hopes of saving you, dear reader, from some pain yourself.

To begin with, at the time, I had a hard time finding what the format of the string in these QR codes should be. I finally found some documentation somewhere in the bowels of Google that I now know, but have lost track of (sorry for no references). The format is rather simple and follows this pattern:

otpauth://totp/<Display Name>?secret=<Secret>&issuer=<Issue Name>

A word of warning though, several authenticator apps seem to have issue with the issuer parameter, I had to omit it with mine and opted to include the issuer in the display name.

The next step is generating a QR code. There are several ways to do this from apps to websites. Obviously the website route is probably a less than idea route for security data. I went with a free windows store app that would generate a QR from any string. But if you are industrious you might check out a cool library QRCoder from Raffael Herrmann (I haven’t used it but it looks really cool, and I might just pick it up to play with).

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