What is Multi Factor Authentication?

Publishded on:- 30 April 2020
  • By ALCiT Team
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What is Multi Factor Authentication?
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A multi factor authentication (MFA) is a security system that requires multiple credentials so you can log into a digital account. Since we live in a digital era almost every task we do is performed through the internet. Internet banking, online shopping and eLearning webpages require passwords & identifiable information in order for you to use the site.


That’s where multi factor authentication comes in. Some sites use MFA as an extra layer of protection that keeps third party organizations and hackers from entering your online accounts.


How Does Multi Factor Authentication Work?

In order to log into a site, you must enter a username and password. But some sites require more information to ensure it’s you who is entering the site and not a hacker.


Extra authorization such as a two-factor authentication code will be sent to your email so you can enter the site securely. The reason why sites require MFA is that the customize password created by the user isn’t always strong enough. If you have a weak password the risk of someone hacking your account is increased.


If your password is stolen the multi factor authentication is a way to prevent them from accessing your account. This is because the criminal will need your email or SmartPhone to verify the two-factor code or security question created by the MFA which the hacker won’t have access to. 


Here are a few examples of MFA:

  • Facial recognition

  • Fingerprint verification

  • Retina scanning

  • Verification Codes sent to email addresses


3 Types of Multi Factor Authentications


1. Knowledge

Your multi factor authentication is generated and sent to you through platforms you know & can enter easily. This can be in the form of a password-protected email address or SmartPhone number.


2. Biometrics

Sites that have extensive security, such as online banking platforms, typically use biometrics authentication for you to enter the page. Biometrics uses fingerprint or voice recognition as a multi factor verification method.


3. Device

Website algorithms can detect when you’re using a different device to enter an online account. This is because each device has a different IP (Internet Protocol) address that each site you visit is recorded under. So, when you’re using a device with a different Internet Protocol you may be asked to verify your online identity.


Another type of MFA called adaptive authentication works through online behavioural patterns. This MFA method may detect logins that seem abnormal and it may ask for additional credentials to verify your identity.


Adaptive authentication detects your online behaviour according to the following:

  • The location you’re in such as your home or work address

  • Times in which you enter your accounts

  • The type of device you’re using

  • Network access such as private or public


If the adaptive authentication detects suspicious activity based on where you are and what device you’re using, you’ll be asked to verify your credentials through a two-factor process.


For example, if you’re entering your bank account in another country on a different PC late at night, the MFA will deem it as suspicious. The MFA will ask you to provide additional credentials so you can log in.


How to Implement Multi Factor Authentication

Some sites won’t force you to utilize their multi factor authentication process. You have the option whether you want to implement it on any of your accounts. It’s important that you add this extra layer of protection to your online accounts to prevent hackers from accessing your information.


Most online sites will have this option under their security settings. Simply find the security settings on the sites you use and follow the steps to set up the multi factor authentication. The MFA methods may differ according to the site you’re using.


Ensure you have a recovery email address and you have entered your contact number in case a two-factor code needs to be sent to you. If it’s a security question, make sure you’ll remember the answer when it’s presented to you.


Final Thoughts

The online world is convenient for you because there are so many tasks you can perform to make your busy life easier. Don’t let the stress of potential cybercriminal attacks stop you from creating as many online accounts as you want. Simply take the extra precautions and set up your multi factor authentication to protect your online accounts from criminal activity.


Want to incorporate this effective security method from now on? We can assist with the Microsoft Authenticator App with Office 365.

Talk to our experts to obtain peace of mind.

If you'd like to get more tips on being Cybersecure, check out Cybersecurity 101.

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