What Does Multi-Factor Authentication Mean?
Multi-factor authentication is a means of IT security that prevents unauthorized access to sensitive data. It requires users to provide at least two pieces of evidence regarding their identity to access a digital platform. This method is even more secure because each piece of evidence is usually of a different nature or category.
The purpose of multi-factor authentication is simple: If cybercriminals get hold of one authentication factor, the other authentication factors can stop them from getting into your system.
You can protect your own business network through multi-factor authentication and use it on any third-party services connected to your business. The most common use of multi-factor authentication can be seen within financial and banking transactions.
Why Is Multi-Factor Authentication Important for Businesses?
Passwords have been the primary authentication source in the digital world for decades. However, hackers have now devised numerous methods to steal passwords to enter your networks, applications, and accounts.
Moreover, poor password hygiene, like using weak passwords and using the same passwords for multiple accounts, has made it easier for clients to achieve network and data breaches.
Cybercriminals commonly use the following techniques to steal passwords: brute force, phishing, stolen hardware, web app attacks, and point of sale intrusions. Through these methods, cyber attackers can obtain sensitive business information, conduct financial frauds, or carry out other illegal activities using your business’s identity.
Considering the points mentioned above, it is quite evident that passwords alone are not sufficient to protect sensitive information. Hence, every business should now use multi-factor authentication to stop hackers from accessing critical data even if they steal the username and password from any employee or customer.
Different Options for Multi-Factor Authentication
You can use multiple layers to secure your business on a required level. Two-factor, three-factor, and even four-factor authentication are being increasingly used by most businesses.
Following are the basic types of multi-factor authentication.
Factors of Knowledge
The most common authentication factors are some things that only you would know, like a password. Other examples in this category include PINs, passphrases, or basic personal questions, like your mother’s maiden name. However, such information can be easily stolen through social engineering and phishing methods. Hence, the factors in this category on their own are not ideal to be used for authentication.
Factors of Possession
This category confirms your identity through a physical device you own like mobile phones, smart cards, key fobs, etc. The methods used to check possession include clicking a pop-up notification, confirming via an app, inserting a card, receiving a one-time password, etc.
Factors of possession provide better security in connection with a password. Why? Because it is less likely that a hacker will steal both your password and your physical device.
Factors of Inheritance
The authentication methods in this category involve unique identifiers of your body like fingerprint scans, voice recognition, face scan, retinal scan, and other types of biometrics. This category encompasses highly secure factors of authentication because it doesn’t include anything that can be easily stolen or discovered.
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