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December 8, 2022
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Technology

What is Multi-Factor Authentication? Definitions, Examples, and How to Set it Up

Multi-factor authentication is an increasingly common security measure used to protect online accounts. It typically requires the user to provide two or more pieces of evidence (or “factors”) to verify their identity before being granted access.

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While the concept of multi-factor authentication defined may seem complex, it’s pretty simple. In this blog post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about MFA – from definitions and examples to how you can set it up for your account.

So, let’s get started!

Multi-factor authentication: what is it?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.

MFA adds a layer of security to traditional single-factor authentication (SFA) systems, which only require a single authentication method, typically a password or PIN.

While passwords can be guessed, lost, or stolen, MFA makes it significantly more difficult for unauthorized users to access your accounts.

How does multi-factor authentication work?

Multi-factor authentication combines two independent credentials: something you know, something you have, and something you are.

The most common type of MFA is two-factor authentication (TFA), which combines two out of the three possible credentials.

For example, a common type of TFA is using a password (something you know) in combination with a code generated by an app on your phone (something you have).

This means that even if someone knows your password, they would also need your physical device to log in to your account.

What are the different types of multi-factor authentication?

There are three main types of MFA: something you know, something you have, and something you are.

  1. Something you know: This is typically a password or PIN. While passwords can be guessed or stolen, they provide an extra layer of security when used in combination with another factor.
  2. Something you have: This could be a security token, a code generated by an app, or even your physical phone.
  3. Something you are: This is usually a biometric factor, like a fingerprint or iris scan.

How do I set up multi-factor authentication?

The process for setting up MFA will vary depending on your service. However, most platforms that offer MFA will allow you to use an authenticator app, like Google Authenticator or Authy.

If you’re using an authenticator app, you’ll typically need to do the following:

  • Install the authenticator app on your phone
  • Add your account to the app
  • Verify that the code generated by the app is correct

Endnote:

Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity. It’s a simple concept that can add an extra layer of security to your online accounts.

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