What’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

In our world of ever-evolving technology, putting in robust cyber security measures has never been more critical, especially when you consider rising cyber security crime and threats to our systems. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that only you can access your data. 

To help you get the most out of multi-factor authentication, we’ve compiled this guide to MFA. In this blog, we define MFA and discuss how it works, as well as provide examples, benefits, the difference between two-factor and multi-factor authentication and its importance.

An Introduction To Multi-Factor Authentication

Before we get into any specifics, let’s discuss what multi-factor authentication is. MFA is a cyber security authentication tool where users can gain access to a website or their data after providing multiple pieces of evidence that prove their identity. Typically users will need to provide knowledge, possession and inherence. In case you are not sure what those terms mean, below are the definitions for each term:

  • Knowledge: Certain details that only the user knows (e.g., mother’s maiden name)
  • Possession: Something only the user has access to (e.g., a driver’s license)
  • Inherence: The user’s physical state (e.g., facial recognition)

Multi-factor authentication works to provide robust security to protect your most private data, such as online banking log-ins and personal identification. This helps to keep users safe from hackers or third parties that wish to steal your financial data, identity and other personal information.

How Does Multi-Factor Authentication Work?

Multi-factor authentication assesses the user’s answers to various questions and passwords. When users input their login details, such as username, email address, and password, MFA systems will ask them to authorize their identity.

Depending on the system’s preferences, users will usually be presented with an array of options, such as providing photographic evidence of their personal ID, facial recognition, and more.

If users pass the first stage, they’ll then move on to the following few stages, such as authorizing their login with a one-time passcode sent to their phone. If they pass these stages, they’ll gain access to their account.

What Are Some Examples Of Multi-Factor Authentication?

Mostly, multi-factor authentication involves a combination of personal security questions and passwords. Here are some examples to help:

  • Biometric verification: Biometric verification includes any way a person can be uniquely identified by providing one of their physical qualities. Biometrics usually include facial recognition, fingerprint access, voice scanning or scanning your eyes (iris recognition).
  • Phone authentication: This verifies identity by using your mobile phone to gain entry. This includes sending a mobile prompt to your device to authorize access.
  • Software token: Sometimes called a soft token, a software token provides a single-use personal identification number to gain entry to a system.
  • SMS: SMS MFA typically sends users a one-time passcode (OTP) to their SMS inbox. From this, users can input this OTP to gain access. This passcode cannot be re-used.

The Benefits Of Using Multi-Factor Authentication

Here are some of the benefits of using MFA:

  • It provides more security layers: Providing additional security layers makes life a lot more challenging for cybercriminals hoping to gain entry to customer profiles. This minimizes the risk of security breaches and protects customer data.
  • It verifies identity for businesses: MFA also helps businesses know who is engaging with their company. This is beneficial for understanding target audiences.
  • Easy to implement: MFA protocols are relatively easy to implement and cost-effective, requiring little developer resources.
  • Customizable: Businesses have a lot of control over their MFA protocols. It allows businesses to customize their authentication methods to what is cost-effective and beneficial for their business.

What’s The Difference Between Multi-Factor Authentication & Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication means that users must provide log-in systems with two types of authentication. This can include a password and an SMS OTP. MFA systems require users to provide multiple authentication factors, such as passwords, OTP and biometric data.

Two-factor authentication can be classed as a type of MFA, as MFA requires two or more types of authentication. However, the two differentiate as two-factor authentication cannot employ any more factors once 2 factors have been implemented, whereas multi-factor authentication can employ several factors at once.

The Importance Of Multi-Factor Authentication

Data breaches can wreak havoc on lives across the globe. This can lead to bank accounts being emptied and identities stolen. The importance of MFA lies in the difficulty of accessing your personal identification once you implement MFA protocols. This will deter the average cybercriminal and prevent your precious information from being stolen.

Do You Have Any More Questions About Multi-Factor Authentication? Call Tech Masters Inc. Today!

Do you have more questions about MFA or need exceptional IT customer service? Tech Masters Inc. can help you! We are willing to provide each company we work with in Edmonton with exemplary standards of service, answering every question you have about multi-factor authentication. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you!

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