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What is Multifactor Authentication?

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) is a security system that requires more than one form of verification to grant access. It combines something you know (like a password), something you have (like a phone), and something you are (like a fingerprint). This layered defense makes unauthorized access significantly harder. How secure is your data without MFA? Let's examine the risks and benefits.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Multifactor authentication is an online security provision that employs several different forms of verification before allowing access to secured information. The function of multifactor authentication is very much like single factor authentication, but with one very important difference. Single factor authentication usually involves nothing more than entering a valid User ID and related password. Multifactor authentication will include the use of both these forms of identification, but also require additional credentials.

One of the more common forms of multifactor authentication is referred to as two-factor authentication. With this application, the end user will begin the access process by entering the usual User ID and a password. Rather than gaining immediate access to the application, the user will then be prompted to enter or affirm some other type of data in order to verify identity. This second level of security could be as simple as entering what is known as a passmark, often affirming that an image associated with the user is being displayed. In some cases, the passmark may be in the form of a security question that was established when the login credentials were first created.

With multifactor authentication, a user must enter a password plus additional credentials to verify identity.
With multifactor authentication, a user must enter a password plus additional credentials to verify identity.

Multifactor authentication or MFA can also function in offline environments as well. For example, access to a secured building may be obtained by first entering a numeric passcode, then submitting to some form of biometric verification. The verification could involve using a sensor to scan the fingerprints of the individual attempting to enter the space. If the fingerprints match the image on file and associated with the passcode, entrance is granted. Along with finger scanning, biometric verification may be conducted using voice recognition, a scan of the eye, or even a facial scan.

Multifactor authentication typically uses fingerprint scanners alongside more traditional security methods like entering a passcode.
Multifactor authentication typically uses fingerprint scanners alongside more traditional security methods like entering a passcode.

The need for multifactor authentication has become increasingly necessary as more people conduct transactions online, and as crime rates have made it prudent to secure office buildings so that only authorized personnel may enter. While some people may become impatient with the extra steps before being able to access bank accounts or enter the office space, using a security system like multifactor authentication goes a long way in the fight to prevent identity theft and keep people safe.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...

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    • With multifactor authentication, a user must enter a password plus additional credentials to verify identity.
      By: jamdesign
      With multifactor authentication, a user must enter a password plus additional credentials to verify identity.
    • Multifactor authentication typically uses fingerprint scanners alongside more traditional security methods like entering a passcode.
      By: Fotosenmeer.nl
      Multifactor authentication typically uses fingerprint scanners alongside more traditional security methods like entering a passcode.