Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security method that requires users to provide two or more forms of identification in order to access an account or system.
It adds an extra layer of security beyond a simple username and password.
The different factors of authentication can include:
- Something the user knows, such as a password, PIN, or answers to security questions.
- Something the user has, such as a physical token, smart card, or mobile phone.
- Something the user is, such as a biometric identifier like a fingerprint, face recognition, or voiceprint.
By requiring multiple factors of authentication, MFA makes it much harder for unauthorized users to gain access to sensitive information or systems.
Even if an attacker manages to obtain one factor, such as a password, they still need to have the other factor(s) to be able to access the account or system.
MFA is increasingly used by organizations and service providers to protect against account compromise and data breaches.
How does multi factor authentication work?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) works by requiring users to provide two or more forms of identification to access an account or system.
The process typically involves the following steps:
- User enters their username and password, as they would with a regular login.
- The system prompts the user to provide one or more additional factors of authentication. This may be a code sent to their mobile phone, a biometric scan, or a physical token.
- The user provides the additional factor(s) of authentication.
- The system verifies the additional factor(s) and grants access to the account or system if all factors are authenticated successfully.
The exact process of MFA can vary depending on the system or service provider.
Some systems may require users to enter their additional authentication factor every time they log in, while others may remember the device used and only require the additional factor on a new device or after a certain period of time.
MFA can provide an additional layer of security beyond a simple username and password, making it much harder for attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or systems. It is an effective way to protect against account compromise and data breaches.