What is Multi-Factor Authentication and How does it work?

Multi-factor authentication is also called two-factor authentication, is a method of increasing the security of logins to your email, VPN, and other network services. This is accomplished by needing a secondary verification factor in combination with your credentials to establish your identity. So, even if someone guesses or steals your password, your account — and the information contained within it — remains safe. Companies offering IT services for government contractors recommend using MFA.

In this blog, we have highlighted essential aspects regarding multi-factor authentication. 

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA, or Multi-Factor Identification, protects you safe by demanding a second form of identification in addition to a password. The second element of MFA is generally what you already have, such as a mobile, software key, or smart card.

What is Multi-Factor Authentication, and How Does It Work?

You’ve almost certainly used multi-factor authentication before. For online account access, most banks, for example, now demand MFA be activated. Several email providers and other online services now strongly advise customers to enable two-factor authentication to keep their accounts secure.

Multi-factor authentication works by asking you to show both something you have (such as your phone) and something you know (such as your password) (your password). It’s important for the stuff you have a component to be something unique to you and can’t be simply stolen or imitated. That’s why biomarkers like fingerprints, face detection, and even iris scans were used in some of the first types of two-factor identification. In high-security applications, they are still utilized.

However, your government IT infrastructure service provider may achieve the protection of multi-factor authentication without any of the complications and cost of biometric data. The second factor in most multi-factor authentication systems is one of the following authentication methods:

Message

The login service provides you a one-time password by text message, which you then input with your login credentials. The majority of internet services use this approach.

Pros: Most users have text-enabled mobile phones, which are quick to set up and use.

Cons: It doesn’t work if you don’t have cell coverage, and it’s subject to SIM switching attacks.

Time-based Codes

An electronic equipment token or mobile app produces a code depending on the current time and a secret key shared with the authentication server, also known as TOTP (time-based one-time passcode). TOTP codes may be generated using apps like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator, and various password managers.

Pros: It doesn’t require mobile service and is entirely secure.

Cons: Requires the installation of a smartphone app or the purchase of a token, making it more challenging to set up.

Push notification

A push notification is delivered to an app on your mobile device instead of a text message, requesting you to accept the login. If you have the Gmail app loaded on your phone, this configuration is supported by Gmail. Duo, a solution by E-N Computers, may combine this approach with Active Directory-based authentication.

Pros: It’s more secure than SMS and more accessible to use than inputting a code.

Cons: There isn’t as much support for this approach as there is for other ways.

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