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multi-factor authentication


Multi-Factor Authentication

An Essential Cyber Security Component

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication, alternatively referred to as two-way identification, multi-way authentication, or two-step authentication, is a security measure that necessitates at least two pieces of evidence (factors) to authenticate an individual’s identity before granting access to an account.

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The factors typically fall into three categories:

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    Knowledge-based factors

    Passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs)

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    Possession-based factors

    Security tokens or smartphones

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    Inherence-based factors

    Biometric data, such as fingerprints or facial recognition

The Functionality of

Multi-Factor Authentication

Upon setting up multi-factor authentication, users must select the factors they wish to use. This often entails combining a password with another factor, such as a code transmitted to a phone via text message or a notification from a smartphone application like Duo.

Here is a simplified example of multi-factor authentication in action:

  1. A user enters their username and password on a website.
  2. The website dispatches a unique code to the user’s smartphone through a text message or an app.
  3. The user inputs the code on the website for identity verification.
  4. The website, after confirming code validity, grants account access.

Some systems may also employ biometric factors for enhanced security levels.

How can a business benefit from setting up MFA?

Multi-factor authentication constitutes a critical aspect of cyber security by providing an additional protective layer for online accounts. Key reasons for MFA's importance include:

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    Vulnerability of passwords

    Hackers employ various methods to obtain passwords, such as phishing attacks that deceive users into revealing their passwords under the guise of a legitimate website. MFA introduces an additional obstacle, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized account access.

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    Protection of sensitive information

    Accounts containing sensitive data, like financial or personal records, necessitate stringent security measures. Multi-factor authentication helps safeguard such information by demanding extra identity verification steps.

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    Adherence to industry standards

    Specific security requirements must be met by companies to protect customer information within many industries. Implementing MFA enables businesses to comply with these requirements and maintain high-security standards for their clientele.

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    Mitigation of identity theft risks

    Identity theft can result in severe consequences, such as financial losses or reputational damage. Multi-factor authentication makes it more challenging for criminals to access personal information, subsequently reducing identity theft risks.

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