All You Need to Know About Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication (MFA) provides an extra layer of protection for your accounts and sensitive data. Here’s all you need to know about MFA, how it works and why it’s an important step in protecting your information.
How multifactor authentication works
Multifactor authentication utilizes two or more factors to allow the user to sign into an account. Generally, these consist of something the user knows, like a password or PIN, along with one or both of the following:
- Something the user has; like a phone, key fob or smartcard.
- Something the user is; like an iris or fingerprint scan, or voice or facial recognition.
Accounts using MFA will not allow the user to sign into their account unless both factors check out.
Why multifactor authentication is crucial for protecting sensitive information
While passwords can provide protection against hackers, they’ve proven to be a weak barrier against hackers. A recent study by Digital Shadows found evidence of approximately 15 billion passwords floating around the darkweb. These passwords can provide cybercriminals with access to the victims’ financial accounts, credit card information, Social Security data and more.
Unfortunately, passwords can be cracked by amateur hackers, even without a data breach. For these reasons, using MFA when available — especially for accounts storing highly sensitive information — is crucial for ongoing security and protection. This way, in the event of a data breach or a hack where a criminal gets his hands on your password or credentials, your info is still protected. Without access to your account’s second authentication factor, the hacker can’t gain entry.
Where you may encounter MFA
You’re most likely to encounter MFA on accounts storing very sensitive data, like banking apps, money management apps, and investment apps. Depending on your line of work, you may also need to use MFA to sign into your personal workplace. Finally, some retailers may offer the option of using MFA.
Using MFA means a longer login process. However, this inconvenience pales against the time, stress and money it will take to recover from a potential data breach.