In today’s digital world, security is more important than ever. With so much of our personal and professional lives taking place online, it’s essential to have strong protections in place to defend against cyberattacks. One way to do this is through Multifactor Authentication (MFA).
You might be wondering what all the hype about MFA is about. After all, isn’t a username and password enough to keep your accounts secure? Unfortunately, no.
Passwords are becoming increasingly easy for hackers to obtain. Therefore, MFA has become such an important security measure. Instead of relying on a single password, multi-factor authentication uses a combination of factors to verify your identity.
While MFA can add an extra step to the login process, it’s well worth the effort to keep your data safe. But what is multi-factor authentication, and how does it work? Read on to find out.
What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Traditionally, all you needed to log into your online accounts was a username and password. In today’s cybersecurity and anti-fraud landscape, that’s simply not enough since these two factors are easy to crack. Therefore, all online service providers require an additional factor of authentication, which is where MFA comes in.
Multi-factor authentication is a method of identity verification that requires using more than one factor to authenticate a user. The most common type of MFA uses three factors: something you know (like a password), something you have (like a phone), and something you are (like your fingerprint or face).
The main purpose of multifactor authentication is to create an extra defence layer that makes it more difficult for unauthorised individuals to access a given target. The target could be a computing or mobile device, a database network, or a physical location. If an unauthorised party manages to bypass one authentication factor, one more barrier will prevent them from accessing your data.
Why is Multi-Factor Authentication Important?
A recent dark web audit revealed that cybercriminals have 15 billion login credentials, which they have obtained from 100,000 security breaches. With so many credentials to choose from, your company private records, healthcare records, or bank account could be at risk. That’s basically why you need multi-factor authentication.
But that’s not all. Password reuse is also a huge problem. It’s not uncommon for people to use the same password for different accounts. While this might make it easier to remember your login details, it makes it much easier for fraudsters to break into your accounts.
Research shows that 81% of confirmed data breaches involve weak, default, or stolen passwords. This is where MFA comes in. Using multiple authentication factors, you can make it much harder for hackers to access your accounts since they would need more than just your password.
MFA is a bulletproof authentication process, which makes it vital in a world where fraud threats are increasing every minute. It will add another security layer to ensure that your data is safe from attacks that could have costly consequences.
How Does Multi-Factor Authentication Work?
When you enable MFA on an account, you’ll be prompted to enter not just your username and password but also a second factor, as a password isn’t needed then this is second factor authentication would be completed through the method of Passwordless Authentication.
This second factor could be a code sent to your phone via text or an authenticator app like Google Authenticator. It could also be a biometric factor like your fingerprint or facial recognition, known as Biometric Authentication.
If you’re using an authenticator app, you’ll open the app and enter the code that’s displayed. These codes are one-time passwords (OTPs) that are only valid for a few seconds.
The codes make it impossible for someone to hack your account. Even if they have your password, they won’t be able to generate the correct code in time.
Once you’ve entered the username, password, and second factor, you’ll be logged into your account. The process might take an extra minute, but it’s a small price to pay for the added security that MFA provides.
Types of Multi-Factor Authentication Methods
Different applications or online accounts will ask you for different types of MFA, depending on the sensitivity of the protected information. The most common types of MFA are:
Password or PIN (Knowledge)
This is the most basic type of MFA, and it’s also the type that most people are familiar with. When you set up an account, you’re asked to create a password or PIN. This is considered your first factor of authentication since it’s something that only you know.
Badge or Smartphone (Possession)
In possession-based authentication, you need something on you, such as a badge or smartphone, to log into your account.
If you’re using a badge or smart card, you’ll need to swipe it or insert it into a card reader. The badge contains a chip that houses your account information. When you swipe the badge, the reader will access your account and log you in.
If you’re using a smartphone, you’ll need to download an authentication app like Google Authenticator. These apps generate codes that change every few seconds. This code is known as a time-based one-time password (TOTP) and changes every 30 seconds.
Biometric Data (Inherence)
This type of MFA uses your physical characteristics, such as your fingerprint, earlobe geometry, voice authentication, iris, or facial recognition, to verify your identity.
For instance, if you’re using facial recognition, you’ll place your face in front of the camera on your smartphone. The camera will read your facial biometrics and compare them to the stored template. If the two match, you’ll be logged into your account.
Other MFA Methods
A few other less common forms of authentication are worth mentioning.
One is token-based MFA. With this type of MFA, you’ll use a physical or software-based token to generate a one-time code. This code is then entered into the login screen along with your username and password.
Others include geolocation MFA and push-based MFA. With the latter, you’ll receive a push notification on your smartphone when you try to log into your account. You can then approve or deny the login attempt.
In Which Business Can MFA Be Used?
You can use multi-factor authentication in any business where security is a concern. This includes businesses in industries such as:
Using MFA in these industries protects user accounts and prevents fraud. MFA ensures that users are who they say they are when making transactions or requesting access.
For instance, in insurance, you can use MFA to verify the identity of policyholders when they’re logging into their accounts to make a claim. In finance, MFA can be used to verify the identity of customers when they’re logging into their bank account or making an online purchase.
What Are the Differences Between MFA and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?
MFA and 2FA are similar in that they both require the use of more than one factor to verify your identity. The main difference between MFA and 2FA is the number of forms of identification required.
2FA is a type of MFA that requires 2-step verification when accessing an account. It requires the user to use two authentication factors. These could be your password and an additional factor like soft token or biometrics.
With MFA, you’re required to use at least two authentication factors. These could be your password, a one-time password (OTPs), and biometrics. As you can see, all 2FAs are MFAs, but not all MFAs are 2FAs.
So, which is better? MFA or 2FA?
There is no clear answer, as both have their own advantages and disadvantages. MFA is generally seen as more secure, as it is harder for someone to access all the necessary information.
The Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication provides several benefits over single-factor authentication. These benefits include:
Reducing Fraud from Stolen Passwords: It’s easy for hackers to get your password through methods like phishing and keylogging. However, it’s much harder for them to get your second authentication factor. This means that MFA can help to reduce the chances of fraudsters being able to access your account and commit fraudulent activities like identity theft.
Protection against Weak Passwords: Even if your password is weak, MFA can help to protect your account if your second authentication factor is strong. This means that you don’t have to worry as much about choosing a strong password, as the second factor will make it more difficult for hackers to access your account.
Improving Convenience: Multi-factor authentication technology doesn’t have to be inconvenient. In fact, many MFA methods are more convenient than single-factor authentication. For example, soft tokens can be generated on your smartphone, and biometrics can be used to quickly and easily verify your identity.
Improving Employee Productivity: By making it more difficult for hackers to gain access to accounts, MFA can improve employee productivity. Employees won’t have to waste time resetting passwords and dealing with the consequences of a security breach. They will also have more peace of mind, knowing that accounts are better protected, also leading to less customer friction.
Our Multi-Factor Authentication Solution – Udentify
Our article answers any questions you may have about why you need multi-factor authentication. Now it’s time to ask yourself why you don’t have MFA set up for your accounts. If you’re ready to take your security to the next level using MFA, start with Udentify.
Udentify protects your online accounts by providing six layers of security with a leading identity verification and authentication system. Our solution deters fraudsters by authenticating only the right person using voice and face biometrics and liveness detection.
You don’t have to worry about user experience because we offer passwordless authentication and passive liveness detection. This means you don’t have to memorise a string of characters or perform uncomfortable gestures to verify identity.
Visit our website to learn more about Udentify and how it can benefit you and your company!