Multifactor Authentication Keeps Your Data Secure
Posted October 12, 2021
Written by John Shea III, Xpanxion Technical Writer
Four Factors to Consider Using
In an earlier article we advised using strong passwords with two authenticators. This method is known as 2 Factor Authentication or 2FA. Multifactor authentication (MFA) can be two or more factors used to authenticate your identity when logging in or accessing information. These factors can be by phone call, email, or text message. To authenticate, you present two or more factors:
- Knowledge is something that only you know (a password or answers to security questions like the name of a first pet or where you first met your spouse)
- Possession is something you have (a security token with a frequently changing numeric key)
- Inherence, something only you are (a fingerprint, retinal scan, or even typing speed)
- Your GPS location, a fourth factor might also be used
MFA protects user data such as personal identification or financial assets from being accessed by an unauthorized third party that might have discovered a single password.
Microsoft is changing the rules again by now having a passwordless account. Your phone number for your mobile device or an email address becomes the first entry and then Microsoft will request a second authenticator, like a fingerprint or a PIN.
Like Using an ATM (and Other Security Points)
Think of two factor authentication like an ATM transaction. You insert your bank card (Factor one) and then provide a PIN (Personal Identification Number) as the second factor to access your bank account.
Similarly, when you log in to your work laptop, you first provide your password, and then the system might ask you how you want the 2nd factor to come, as a text message, phone call, or email.
- Text message: You get one on your phone with a number you input to the system.
- Phone call: Once you answer and perhaps press a number or provide a PIN, you complete the authorization and are permitted entry into the system.
- Email: The email message might have a number to enter on the landing page of the website or a link you select, and once selected, you are taken to the system’s web site. You might be asked to change your password, or just permitted entry.
Validation is Why We Need It
Multifactor authentication is an important way to validate the identity of anyone using a laptop, desktop, to even cloud resources. MFA makes it difficult for attackers but with minimal difficulty for legitimate users.
It is recommended that, as a start, passwords should be memorized and not written down for a hacker to find. In the security community, they call this difficulty “friction”. You might read of frictionless method to make it easier to access your information but still thwart hackers.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an increasingly important tool for?validating the identity of users accessing everything from desktops to cloud-based resources. MFA creates friction for attackers with minimal disruption to legitimate users.
Xpanxion can provide this service for you or your company through our Cybersecurity practices.
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