Multi-factor
authentication (MFA) explained

What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can greatly enhance security while delivering a positive user experience. MFA is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence, or factors, to an authentication mechanism.

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  • Something user knows
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  • Something user knows
  • Something user has
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  • Something user knows
  • Something user has
  • Something user is
4x breaches

Breaches have quadrupled in last four years costing the global economy $2.1 trillion in 2019.

2+ factors

By requiring 2 or more factors for verification, MFA provides the strongest security.

$5.2M lost

The average company loses $5.2M annually in weak password-related accounts lockouts.

* The 2019 State of Password and Authentication Security Behaviors Report, Ponemon Report, 2019


Types of multi-factor authentication

You have probably used multi-factor authentication (MFA) before without realizing it. The bank has higher confidence because a wallet thief cannot drain your account unless they also know your PIN. MFA is a way for the service you use to authenticate your identity, by asking you to present two or more pieces of evidence (factors) during the login process.

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Biometrics

Biometrics such as voice recognition or fingerprint scans.

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Magnetic stripe cards

Cards that contain data such as identification numbers written on magnetic storage media. May include other security features such as an employee id card with a photo on the front.

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Security keys

A hardware authenticator that provides physical proof that the user is present when they touch the key.

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Security tokens/mobile devices

Hardware such as a USB device or mobile phone that generates time-synchronized tokens based on a shared key with an authentication service.

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Challenge/response

Answers to challenge questions that may include personal information such as “Your favorite sport.” or “Your first car.”

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Smart cards

Cards that have embedded computing capabilities that typically include authentication credentials such as public key certificates.

Multi-factor authentication
raises the bar for security

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Experience multiple layers of protection

Users who are security savvy and want the highest levels of security for sensitive resources or transactions opt for multi-factor authentication as the barrier to entry is the most stringent. A user has to supply several pieces of information before gaining access to their accounts.

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Protect high assurance transactions

For certain transactions, using strong single factor authentication may provide sufficient security. However for high assurance transactions, such as filling a prescription, or making a high dollar value transaction, a user may need to be verified more strongly. Multi-factor authentication with a PIN will strongly assure the identity of the user.

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Ensure strong compliance

For organizations in regulated industries, there is a need to meet stringent compliance regulations and compliance regulations such as PCI and HIPAA. Using a multi-factor authentication approach with solutions that meet the highest levels of assurance, such as NIST Assurance Level 3 (AAL3) assures authorized access.

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