Multi-Factor Authentication

What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

Have you ever encountered a scenario where you were prompted to provide further information after entering your username and password to access a website, a banking app, or another device or system? The name of this system is “multi-factor authentication” (MFA).

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) confirms a user’s identity by utilizing two or more factors, such as a code, token, PIN, biometric data, or a combination of these, before providing access to data or a system.

Simple authentication needs one piece of data, such as a password. Multi-factor authentication uses more than one factor to access a resource to increase security.

Considering today’s web world and the growing incidence of data theft, MFA is a crucial component of any security system to guard the user’s private information against unauthorized access.

Nowadays, most internet accounts, including banking and social media accounts, and gadgets like phones and laptops are secured with MFA.

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring access to one of the additional factors, even if the user’s password was compromised. This means that even if someone were to learn the user’s password, they would still need access to one of the additional factors to gain access.

It is significantly more difficult for hackers to access accounts when more than one authentication factor is used since they need to know many pieces of information.

Individuals and government organizations frequently use MFA and other corporates to safeguard sensitive data and ensure that only authorized persons may access their systems or data to boost security.

MFA is gaining popularity, especially as businesses switch from using standard passwords to more robust identity verification techniques. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a powerful tool for preventing illegal access to networks and user data by utilizing multiple stages of identity verification.

MFA is essential for protecting user information in today’s interconnected networks and rising data theft cases. It will assist in reducing the risk of identity theft, data breaches, and other cyberattacks.

This post will look at other aspects of MFA, including some platforms offering MFA services.

How Does MFA Work?

Before providing someone access to a system or account, a security measure called MFA verifies the person’s identity using various authentication methods. It is meant to make it much more difficult for attackers to access sensitive information or resources.

MFA combines a physical element—such as a code delivered to your phone—with something you know—such as a password. It can also use biometric data, such as fingerprints, to establish identity.

End users commonly input their username and password when logging into an account using multi-factor authentication. After that, they will be asked to authenticate their identity, usually with a few additional choices.

One-time passwords (OTPs) delivered through SMS or codes entered through authenticator apps are other alternatives.

You can also use an authenticator app to submit biometric information like a fingerprint or facial scan. Some enterprise firms may require users to authenticate via a physical token, such as a key or swipe card.

Third-party authenticator (TPA) applications like Google, which typically display an authentication code frequently changing and randomly produced, provide multi-factor authentication.

Factors in an MFA Setup

Authentication occurs when someone wants to access a resource such as a network, device, or application. To use the final product (system or service), the user must provide help with their identification and verification of their claim to that identity.

Organizations and individuals can implement multi-factor authentication using the authentication factors listed below:

The MFA factors can be grouped into three aspects:

  • Knowledge Factor: Something you know, such as a password or PIN
  • Possession Factor: Something you have, such as a hardware token or USB dongle
  • Inherent Factor: Something you have, such as a fingerprint, eye, or facial scan

Email Codes: The user seeking access via email will receive these codes. One of the most typical forms of MFA is getting a code via email.

Text Tokens: One of the most popular MFA factors is text tokens. A one-time password (OTP) in the form of a PIN will be sent to your phone when you enter your username and password.

Virtual Tokens: Multi-factor authentication-enabled mobile authenticator apps increase the security of logging into online accounts and websites. Microsoft’s Authenticator app offers randomly generated and frequently changed code, similar to Google’s. The generated code from the mobile authenticator must be entered after the user’s username and password to access the desired system or service.

Verification Using Biometrics: Verification using biometrics might involve anything from facial recognition to fingerprint identification. Users of PCs or smart devices can benefit from this technology to improve their online security.

Hardware Tokens: This technique produces codes using a tiny gadget. One of the most secure MFA techniques is this one. It is used extensively in businesses, banking, and other highly certain applications.

If you want to access information on a mobile device, you may utilize a USB or USB-C “dongle”.

Security Questions: Well-known questions may occasionally be asked as part of MFA. When creating your account, you might be prompted to choose a security question such as:

  • What was the name of your first pet?
  • What street did you grow up on?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • What was your childhood nickname?

You must first enter your username and password to access your account and respond to a security question. But because similar information can be easily collected from other social media tools, MFAs of this type need to be updated.

MFA will be safe and secure if tokens, passcode, PINs, biometric scan, etc., are implemented dynamically.


Let’s examine how MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) and 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) vary:

The use of multiple factors to verify a person’s identity while seeking access to a resource, website, or other application is known as multi-factor authentication or MFA.

Multi-factor authentication offers more assurance that users are who they say they are by demanding more than one form of identity confirmation, which lowers the risk of unwanted access to sensitive data. Multi-factor authentication is therefore defined as any combination of two or more factors.

While merely using two factors is referred to as 2FA. The easiest and most efficient method for adding a safe layer of authentication on top of login credentials is two-factor authentication (2FA).

Following the entry of their credentials, users must confirm their identity using a different factor, such as a code obtained via email or SMS, security questions, etc. Even if someone steals a customer’s password maliciously, these protocols prevent suspicious login attempts to the system.

The type of authentication used depends entirely on the sensitivity of the data and other circumstances. For instance, MFA is used when the system or data is related to finance or banking, but simple 2FA is used when accessing email services.