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The most popular form of security measures available is the use of passwords. However, this security measure is also the most vulnerable. 

With cybercrimes on the rise, even the use of passwords that may seem hard to decode isn’t enough in many cases. These criminals are becoming savvier in their cybersecurity attacks.

Because of this, business owners and security experts are strategizing more ways to make it harder for unauthorized individuals to enter their network. Adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one way to ensure much stronger cybersecurity measures.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication is a method where the user shows authorization to the use of a computer network. The proper authentication criteria include successfully presenting at least two of the evidence that must be presented to be able to enter into the network. 

This process is a critical component of Identity and Access Management (IAM). Aside from requesting the username and the password, multi-factor authentication requires more verification before allowing access to the system.

Types Of Authentication Factors

The criteria could be various tools. In fact, the three types of authentication factors or basic elements include 

  • something the user knows, like a password or pin number;
  • something the user has, like a mobile device;
  • and something the user is, like a fingerprint, optics, or voice. You may have to answer security questions or go through more advanced security measures. For instance undergoing facial recognition, retina scans, behavioral analysis, or fingerprint analysis. 

The authorized criteria vary according to concerns, clearances, or security issues in the organization.

How MFA Works

As previously mentioned, the proper authentication criteria include successfully presenting at least two of the evidence that must be presented in order to enter the network.

The following are some popular types of MFAs and how multi-factor authentication works in these methods:

• SMS token – One of the most popular types of MFA. This is when your computer network sends a code via text to your mobile phone. You must then type in the correct code to gain access to the computer network.

• Email token – This is similar to SMS tokens. You will receive a token via email. Then, you must type in the requested code sent to the email for verification.

• Hardware token – User receives this physical device for authentication. It could be a USB device with a key or a device that shows a set of numbers, such as an RSA. The authorized user carries them with him/her.

• Software token – This is a form of two-factor authentication on a general-purpose electronic device, such as a computer, PDA, laptop, or mobile phone.

• Phone call – this is when your computer network sends a code via a phone call to your mobile phone. Then, you must type in the correct code given through the phone call to gain access to the computer network.

MFA Solutions And Additional Factors

Multi-factor authentication solutions these days also utilize additional factors by considering the user’s context and behavior when authenticating. These factors could be the following:

• The location where the user is trying to obtain access. For example at home, at the office, or in a cafe.

• The day and time a user is trying to access. For instance during typical work hours or late at night.

• The device used such as a laptop, tablet, or a smartphone.

• The type of network being accessed, like public or private.

This multi-factor authentication process is called adaptive authentication. This process takes into account content that is out of the ordinary.  So, when an individual tries to authenticate in a different setting or way, adaptive authentication may utilize security measures by asking additional credentials. An example would be entering a code texted to their mobile phone.

Benefits Of MFA

One of the most important benefits of MFA is that it can significantly decrease the chance of a hacker or cybercriminal from being able to access your business system. 

With multi-factor authentication, a hacker or cybercriminal may have stolen a piece of the user’s credentials; however, he/she may be thwarted when trying to verify their identity with additional security measures that he/she doesn’t know. 

With this extra level of security, you can have more peace of mind for your company due to your sensitive data being more safely protected. Also, users will be reminded of how important tight identity security is. That way, they can be more cautious in maintaining their security by updating passwords and other authentication measures every so often.

According to Microsoft’s Director of Identity Security, organizations that employ multi-factor authentication are 99.9% less likely to be compromised than organizations that do not utilize MFA. 

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A Word Of Caution

While multi-factor authentication can reduce the risk of a data breach, it is not foolproof and should not be seen as a substitute for end-user training on social engineering and phishing attacks.

The principle of multi-factor authentication is that there is no perfect authentication factor. Any implemented factor will have strengths and weaknesses. The concept of multi-factor authentication is that a second or third factor will compensate for the weakness of the other factors and vice-versa. 

However, as the number of organizations using multi-factor authentication has increased, so too have attacks that bypass MFA.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that multi-factor authentication can significantly improve security. Even a recent study showed that the estimated growth of the multi-factor authentication market will go from $6.0 billion in 2016 to $12.5 billion by 2022. 

This proves that a plethora of companies think that MFA is, right now, one of the best security measures you can use to protect your company, sensitive data, and users.

Teamstack’s MFA feature can help organizations secure their logins. We have successfully helped thousands of companies, and we can do the same for you. Check out Teamstack MFA features here.

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