• 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
    • Something user knows
    • Something user has
    • 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 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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    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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