The days of trusting passwords (single factor authentication) alone are ending, my friends.
What Are MFA And 2FA?
Perhaps you have been asked to add MFA or 2FA to your online banking account or Amazon. MFA and 2FA are both in the realm of network security, but what are they? MFA stands for “multi-factor authentication” and is a security control put in place to allow legitimate users to verify their identities by providing proof before gaining access to a device or an application. 2FA stands for “two factor authentication”, sometimes referred to as two-step verification or dual-factor authentication, and is a security process in which users provide two different authentication factors to verify themselves. (TechTarget)
What Is An Example Of A “Factor”?
If a user is accessing their email from a medical database for a hospital, they need to verify their identity before access can be granted. The three most common ways a user can prove their identity are Knowledge, Possession, and Inherence. Knowledge – the user can provide a piece of information about themselves that only they know, like an answer to a challenge question. Possession – the user can supply an item like a flash drive or a one-time password. Inherence – the user will rely on a unique identifier, like a retina scan or a fingerprint.
Is there a difference between MFA and 2FA? Simply put – yep! Two factor authentication always involves two of the aforementioned factors to confirm the identity of the user in question. Multi-factor authentication could be two of the factors or it could be all three. The term “multi-factor” just means any number of factors greater than one.
Which Type Is Harder To Hack?
There seems to be little debate about whether MFA is better than 2FA. If two factors make it harder for a hacker to access your data, three factors must be the better option of the two. That mostly seems to be the consensus. Obviously, requiring three different factors for login provides more security than two. Most computer technicians and end-users alike know that passwords are easily compromised. It’s almost impossible for a hacker to get your password and your mobile device. Inherence makes it even harder for an attacker to hack or steal. The chances of your fingerprint being used in an attack are quite slim, which makes it a valuable authentication factor.
Are There Other Options?
Whether you like it or not, MFA and 2FA are here to stay. However, some users find it slow and cumbersome and look for ways around it or to get through it quicker. Trust me, using “password” or “123567” to get through your security questions will only put you at greater risk of a data breach. I also know that some of you out there keep your passwords on post-it notes on your desktop. I don’t condone undermining password security but these are the worst of the worst.
There are solutions out there (some of them free) that offer an easy-to-use interface that also allows users to choose the factors that are most convenient for them. With these solutions in mind, you can shop around for the one that fits your needs best. For example, Adaptive Authentication analyzes your behavior as a user by studying factors such as your patterns and usage history. Based on these things, adaptive authentication will assign a level of risk associated with the login attempt. Say you access your computer every day between 8am and 5pm and it only requires a password. If you log in outside of those hours, this strange behavior would be met with another layer of authentication.
Cyber criminals have dedicated their lives to trying to steal your data, and an effective multi-factor authentication policy is your first line of defense against them. Let us help you implement a data security plan that will save your business time and money in the future – Contact us today!