Last Updated on November 11, 2022 by
What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?
Multi-factor authentication is a verification mechanism involving a person giving two or more validation criteria to access a service like an online account, an application, or a virtual private network. A robust IAM (identity and access management) policy should include multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA needs one or more additional authentication criteria in addition to a password and username, which reduces the chances of an effective cyber incident.
What is the significance of MFA?
The fundamental advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it increases the protection of your company by forcing users to authenticate themselves with more than just a password and username. Although essential, passwords and usernames are susceptible to brutal attacks and can obtain by 3rd parties. Imposing the usage of multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism such as a physical hardware key or a thumbprint increases your company’s trust in its ability to protect itself against cyber attackers.
How Does an MFA work?
MFA operates by requesting further info for validation (factors). OTP (One-time passwords) are among the most frequent multi-factor authentication elements users encounter. One-time passwords are four to eight-digit codes that you may get via SMS, email, or a mobile phone application. When using OTPs, a new code generate regularly or whenever a verification attempt requires. The code generates using a seed value supplied to the user when they initially register and another component, such as a time value or an incremented counter.
MFA Authentication Methods: Three Main Types
The majority of MFA verification techniques rely on one of three types of additional details:
- Things you are aware of (knowledge), such as a PIN or password
- Something that you own (Possession), such as a smartphone or a badge
- Things that you are (inherence), such as voice recognition or fingerprints.
Utilizing a mixture of these factors to verify is an example of Multi-Factor Authentication:
- Personal security questions and answers
- One-time passwords – OTPs (Can be both Possession and Knowledge- You have something in your Possession to obtain it like your smartphone, or you know the OTP)
- One-time passwords receive via email or text
- One-time passwords generated via mobile phone applications
- Smart Cards, USB devices, Access badges, or mobile security keys or fobs
- Software certificates and tokens
- Facial recognition, fingerprints, iris, voice, retina scanning or other Biometrics
- Behavioural analysis
Other Multi-Factor Authentication Methods
Verification methods are becoming increasingly advanced as MFA incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), including:
Location-based multi-factor authentication usually examines a user’s IP address and, if available, their geolocation. This data can prohibit a user’s accessibility if their location data doesn’t meet what define on an allowlist. This data can also combine with other verification forms, including an OTP or a password, to validate that user’s identification.
Risk-based Authentication or Adaptive Authentication
Adaptive authentication, often known as Risk-based Authentication, is a subtype of multi-factor authentication. When verifying, adaptive authentication considers different aspects such as behaviour and context, and these variables use to establish a degree of risk to the login request. Consider the following scenario:
- From where is the person seeking to obtain information?
- When you’re looking to get information on a company? During your regular working hours or your “off hours”?
- What type of devices is in use? Is it the similar one that uses the day before?
- Is the connectivity made via a public or private network?
The vulnerability level is determined by how answers to these questions. It can utilize it to evaluate whether users ask for a different identification mechanism or if they will be permitted to log in. As a result, risk-based authentication is another moniker for this sort of verification.
With Adaptive Authentication in effect, a user signing in late in the night from a hotel, which is not something they regularly do, may be needed to provide a code sent to their smartphone in addition to their password and username. Whenever they log in from the workplace each day at 9 a.m., they ask for their password and username.s
Cyber attackers invest their lives attempting to acquire your data, and a well-implemented MFA policy is your initial line of defence. In the long run, an efficient data security solution will save your company money and time.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) difference?
Two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication use interchangeably. 2FA is a subtype of multi-factor authentication in that it limits the number of variables needed to just two, although MFA can have two or more.
What does MFA mean relates to cloud computing?
Multi-factor authentication has grown more important since the introduction of Cloud Computing. Organizations can no more depend on a user existing physically on the same network as a device as a security consideration as they shift their operations to the cloud. The company must implement additional security to verify that the person utilizing the networks is not malicious actors. MFA can assist in verifying that users are who they say. They ask for extra verification variables that are more challenging for cybercriminals to duplicate or break using brute force tactics because users can access these networks at any time and from any location.
MFA for Office 365
Several cloud-based services, such as Amazon Web Services and MS Office 365, have multi-factor authentication solutions. Azure AD is a standard verification system of Office 365’s. But these solutions have some limits. For instance, when it relates to what type of additional verification mechanism users can use, you only have four choices: MS Authenticator, Voice, SMS, and Oauth Token. Based on the kinds of options you want available and whether or not you wish to manage which users will require to utilize MFA, you may have to spend more on licensing.