What’s the Difference Between OTP and TOTP?

What’s the Difference Between OTP and TOTP?
What’s the Difference Between OTP and TOTP?

Having different types of identity authentication procedures available in the cybersecurity market is a necessity, considering all the threats you are exposed to.

One-time passwords are one such security solution that offers a great source for identity verification. However, have you heard about time-based one-time passwords? Both of these are SMS authentication types, but people usually mistake two of these for the same security feature. Nonetheless, there is a difference between the two: TOTP vs. OTP.

In this blog, we discuss the definitions, features, and benefits of these two types of SMS authentication protocols. So, let us begin with this discussion of OTP vs. TOTP and figure out which one is the better option.

Difference Between TOTP and OTP

OTP and TOTP are two types of security mechanisms that usually perform the same function: verifying a user's identity for authentication.

One-Time Password (OTP) - OTP is a static password that becomes invalid after being used once. Unlike your registered password, it won’t be valid multiple times.

Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) - TOTP is a time-based OTP that requires the user to enter the OTP within a given time. This window of opportunity for entering the code in TOTP is usually 30 to 60 seconds. After that, the TOTP expires and you must be issued a new one.

OTP vs TOTP Key Difference - TOTPs and OTPs differ in how long their generated codes last, i.e., their validity. Most traditional OPTs are counter-based, i.e., each login session requires a new OTP to be generated.

TOTPs are time-based, i.e., the OTPs remain valid for a specified timeframe – usually 30 to 60 seconds, after which it expires and a new TOTP must be generated if you fail to enter the TOTP within that time.

Understanding One-Time Passwords (OTPs)

One-time Password is a form of SMS Authentication that is mostly and largely used for multi-factor authentication. When a registered user enters their username and password credentials, the security system verifies its accuracy.

When accurate credentials are identified, the user’s mobile number is alerted about the access request.

This alert is usually in the form of a text message asking you to verify your identity by entering the given pin or code in the system. This code, usually numerical, is called a One-Time Password.

This OTP forms a layer of security by verifying the possession of the registered device, like a mobile phone, with the user themselves.

Understanding Time-based One-Time Passwords (TOTPs)

Time-based One-Time Password is a time-based static password provided to the user which is valid only for that particular time. Hence, the name is a time-based one-time password. It functions the same way as a simple OTP. However, it has a limited time bracket of utility.

The user access request will decline the access if the user does not enter this TOTP accurately and in the given timeframe. By adding an additional feature of limited time, this security solution has enhanced the protection around the network.

TOTP vs OTP – Benefits Of OTPs and TOTPs

Benefits of OTP

  • User Convenience

OTP is a type of authentication that is very user-friendly since it is convenient. Along with that, most network and digital users are extremely familiar with the technology.

This makes it even easier to implement it in the security system. There are fewer chances of human error and lack of knowledge, making it a very fruitful integration into your system.

  • Versatility

With the OTP mechanism, you utilise various digital platforms, like SMS, mobile messaging applications, email addresses, devices, etc. This keeps the bounds of the software open and not limited or tied to a certain type of application or device. This makes OTP a versatile security solution.

  • Not Time-Bound

Unlike TOTP, OTP is not time-bound but static. Users usually benefit from its static nature. However, various issues might arise, like the OTP reaching a little late. If this happens, there will be no chance to redeem it if it were time-bound.

  • Improved Security

An OTP will always improve your security system. It is the biggest reason so many applications and software utilise OTP. With a strong authentication protocol, risks are reduced. OTP is one such strategy that helps reduce issues like brute force attacks, DDoS attacks, or hacking trials.

Benefits Of TOTP

  • Time Sensitive

As the name suggests, Time-based One-Time Passwords are time-sensitive. Meaning they will become invalid after a certain period of time. This reduces many risks by limiting the time frame and window of opportunity for fraudulent users.

  • Increased Resistance

Since TOTP offers an optimal provision for authentication of the user’s identity, it functions as the ultimate resistance against cybersecurity attacks. Since the possession of the registered device is paramount for OTP verification, it is even more important to have it at the time of access request.

This is because the requirement is time-sensitive, and one has to enter it in a limited time. This increases the resistance towards hackers, fraudulent users, and various other attacks.

  • Synchronisation

The registered device, mobile or laptop, creates the same passcode along with the network’s security system. This is how synchronisation works under TOTP. They generate the same codes at the same time according to the current time. This function is extremely valuable to the security systems that have TOTP configured.

  • Defence Against Replay

Unlike OTP, TOTP does not offer static and unbound code. What this does is it negates the risk of replay. Although it is not impossible to perform a replay attack with TOTP, the defence strategy is enhanced with this mechanism. Since the passcode is valid for a limited period of time, usually 30-60 seconds, it becomes difficult to replay and replicate the OTP!


The addition of the security technology of OTP and TOTP has proven to be valuable in an inclusive way for network security. While providing a robust protocol for identity verification, they also provide a base of authentication for a multiple-layered authentication system.

Being aware of these security solutions is extremely important. Moreover, finding good providers, like Instasafe, also plays an important role. You can find security solutions like Multi-factor Authentication and integrate TOTP or OTP mechanism with it!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is TOTP better than OTP?

TOTP, being a time-based verification model, becomes more effective than a static OTP. It does not give any benefit of the doubt about the possession of the device. If the user takes more than the designated time, it is deemed invalid and that provides security. Hence, this makes TOPT a better solution than OTP!

Is Google Authenticator a TOTP?

The Google authenticator is an authenticator application that uses the time-based one-time password technology for the user verification procedure to maintain the security of the application.

What is the difference between HOTP and TOTP?

HOTP is short for Hash-based One Time Password. Unlike TOTP, which is a time-based password for one-time use, hash-based OTP is an event-based OTP authentication system.

This system has a moving factor in the code that is based on a counter. Usually, the last digit is the moving factor, and after each validation, it changes.

Where can one use TOTP?

An application or software must configure TOTP if they are utilised for online banking transactions. Other than that one can use it for access control, password reset procedures, open source platforms, healthcare organisations, etc.