What is Multi-factor authentication?
Multi-factor authentication is a form of electronic authentication in which a user is granted access to the website or application after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism: Inherence and possession of knowledge Multi-factor authentication protects user information, such as personal identification or financial assets, from being accessed by an unauthorised third party who might have figured out a single password.
Before acquiring access to the website, mobile phone app, or other online resource, users must prove their identity using at least two different verification factors, known as multi-factor authentication (MFA). If one of the factors is compromised, an attacker still has one more barrier to overcome before gaining access to the target’s account with MFA.
How does Multi-Factor Authentication work?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) entails using several technologies to verify a user’s identity. Single-factor authentication (or simply “authentication”), on the other hand, relies on a single technology to verify a user’s identity. MFA requires users to use at least two different verification technologies or authentication factors. These components are divided into three categories: what you know, have, and who you are. This is why, while using a PIN with a password (both from the “something you know” category), using a PIN with facial recognition (from the “something you are” category) would be regarded as multi-factor authentication. It’s worth noting that MFA doesn’t necessitate the use of a password. A password-free MFA solution is possible.
Using more than two authentication methods is also appropriate. On the other hand, the majority of users desire frictionless authentication (the ability to be verified without the need to perform verification).
Types of Multi-factor authentication
SMS Token Authentication
This check, which is usually a text message containing a PIN, is a relatively simple measure to implement, especially for consumers and the general public. This PIN is always use as a one-time password (OTP), usually use with traditional username and password verification.
Suppose your customers frequently use mobile devices to access your services. In that case, it’s a good idea to provide them with this or another mobile device-based authentication method to make the customer journey more manageable.
Email Token Authentication
This method is similar to SMS tokens, except the code is sent through email instead of SMS. It’s a good idea to provide this option because not everyone has their phone with them all of the time. If your customer’s mobile device is lost or stolen, it can use as a backup. It’s also a simple way to get an OTP from any device sending and receiving an email.
Hardware Token Authentication
As long as the key remains in the consumer’s possession, using a separate hardware token is one of the most secure authentication methods available. Although providing free dongles to your high-value customers can be cost-effective, this method is more expensive.
Business customers are more likely to stretch mile to use a hardware token, and hardware token adoption is on the rise. However, it is not a good idea to make them mandatory for anyone other than the most valuable, at-risk customers, such as banking, insurance, and investment clients.
To use the hardware token, users need to insert it into their device. They will need another dongle to add a USB or USB-C port to their smart device if they use a mobile phone for access.
Software Token Authentication
You can get the almost same level of security as a hardware token by using an authentication app on a mobile device. In a sense, the smart device takes on the role of the ticket. for instance, this can integrate with Google Authenticator, .
Customer experience to use a third-party solution can encourage them to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for more offerings outside of your company, increasing their overall security. It’s also a great way to avoid carrying an extra dongle to connect a hardware token to a smart device.
One of the most popular ways to authenticate users, such as through phone, is to send them a randomly generate one-time password (OTP) via SMS. Another option is to use automated telephone calls.
People who have a smart device or computer that supports biometric authentication (such as biometric ID or face recognition) can use this check as part of Multi-factor authentication to confirm their identity. Customers find it less aggravating to use biometric ID verification more frequently than typing in an OTP because it is less hassle. When extra checks are unavoidable, the lower friction makes it a great option.
Why is Multi-factor authentication important to your cybersecurity?
Multi-factor authentication adds layer of security to your system. The likelihood of an impactful cybersecurity breach is reduce significantly by verifying an employee’s identity before they access your programmes. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your company is a critical step toward ensuring continuous data security, compliance, and a commitment to improving your cybersecurity infrastructure.
According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, stolen credentials were used in 78% of web application attacks in North America. Weak or default passwords were frequently blamed. Suppose a hacker successfully gains a password, but the profile requires a second form of authentication. In that case, the hacker’s chances of gaining access to the network are small to none.
The Google Security Blog has published research that demonstrates how MFA improves account security:
100% of automated bots, 96% of bulk phishing scams, and 76% of targeted attacks were all blocked by SMS codes.
On-device prompts helped prevent 100% of spambots, 99% bulk phishing attacks, and 90% targeted strikes.
How does your company go about implementing multi-factor authentication?
Raising staff awareness is the first step to successfully implementing Multi-factor authentication in your organisation. Employees must understand why MFA is implementing and how it fits into the cybersecurity strategy. This provides a clear picture for everyone of how they can better protect both their work and personal devices, as well as your company’s sensitive data. Documentation, email messages, training sessions, and FAQs can all aid in educating your employees and clearing up any misunderstandings.
Start with a small number of users and systems that have access to the most sensitive information, such as your account manager and C-suite accounts. Starting small makes it easier to implement MFA across your entire organisation successfully. It is almost always easier to make incremental changes to cybersecurity rather than making drastic changes all at once.
Your IT team should consult timelines and provide clear instructions on when and how to set up Multi-Factor Authentication across the organisation when rolling out MFA. Phone-based authentication apps are a popular choice that is simple to set up. Although biometric Multi-Factor Authentication is easy and effective, some people may be hesitant to use it for corporate login.
Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication
1. Reduce Fraud & Identity Theft
The days of cracking a weak password and gaining access to the information have passed. Hacking becomes more difficult for cybercriminals when more than two identity verification methods are required. By needing additional security measures that robbers can rarely access, MFA reduces fraud and identity theft.
2. Increase Customer Trust
Customers appreciate knowing that their information is safe. Customers’ trust and respect businesses that take precautions to protect them, even if additional verification steps may seem inconvenient and unnecessary at times.
3. Achieve Compliance
Specific compliance actions are necessary for some industries, such as GDPR and HIPAA. According to health, finance, and government agencies, businesses must follow guidelines that protect customers’ rights and mitigate risk. When determining your security standards, keep your company’s specific needs in mind.
4. Reduce Operating Costs
Businesses spend time and money notifying customers of suspicious activity on their accounts. MFA reduces fraud by reducing help desk efforts and allowing employees to focus on more complex service problems.
While there are some upfront costs associate with successfully implementing MFA, the investment pays off in the long run.
5. Streamline Safe Mobile Transactions
People are completing online transactions and mobile devices in more significant numbers than ever before. Consumers can make purchases directly from OTT (over-the-top) apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, necessitating increased security against scams through multi-factor authentication.
6. Combat Password Fatigue
The average computer user has between 70 and 80 passwords, according to NordPass. Many customers resort to using the same password on multiple accounts or creating simple, easy-to-steal passwords because they have so many to remember. Both methods make password hacking simple.
MFA protects against password exhaustion and adds an extra layer of security, ensuring that even simple passwords are unhackable by cybercriminals.
7. Simplify the Login Process
Multi-factor authentication has become much easier since the invention of single sign-on logins. A one-time password (OTP) is a sequence of letters, numbers, or symbols sent to a user only once during a login attempt. Web-based services, personal credentials, and data can protect with one-time passwords sent to a mobile phone via SMS or voice.
By sending time-sensitive, unique, and random codes and PINs to users’ mobile devices via Text messaging, voice, or push messages, OTPs reduce the risk of fraud. Customers can use one login while maintaining high-security standards by combining MFA security with the convenience of an app.