Multi-Factor Authentication

Definition & Meaning:

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

This system adds an additional layer of security by combining two or more independent credentials: what the user knows (password), what the user has (security token), and what the user is (biometric verification).

The most common example of MFA is the use of a bank ATM. When you withdraw money, you must provide something you have (your ATM card) and something you know (your PIN).

In the digital realm, MFA may involve entering a password followed by a code sent to your phone, which only you possess. MFA is increasingly used by online platforms, especially for actions involving sensitive information or financial transactions.

For instance, when logging into an email account or online banking, you might first enter your password (something you know) and then be required to enter a code sent via SMS to your phone (something you have).

Another form of MFA is biometric verification, which includes fingerprint scans, facial recognition, or voice authentication. This method relies on something you are, offering a high level of security since biometric data is unique to each individual.

MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access because even if one factor (like a password) is compromised, an attacker still needs to breach the additional layer(s) of security.

It’s an essential security measure in protecting against phishing attacks, identity theft, and other cybercrimes. Businesses and service providers implement MFA to safeguard their systems and sensitive customer data.

As a user, enabling MFA wherever it’s available can protect your personal information from being easily accessed by malicious actors.