Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Basics

You’ve likely heard of multi-factor authentication (MFA) but what exactly is it? What does it do? Why is it important? We answer all of these questions in this blog post. We’re offering enough MFA knowledge to hold your own TED Talk… or maybe a TEDx Talk… a really short one.

What is multi-factor authentication (MFA)?

Multi-factor authentication is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (also known as factors) to an authentication mechanism: possession, knowledge and being. See the image below for a visual explanation.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): possession, knowledge and being

What is 2-factor authentication?

In 2-factor authentication (2FA), users log into a system. They have a secondary application (such as DUO mobile) that acts as another layer of security. Users are either prompted with a push notification to select "accept" or "deny" or they are given a pin code to enter onto the log in screen. If they don’t have an application downloaded on their phone, other methods such as texts or phone calls can be put into place to obtain the secondary password.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): password, proof, access

Why is MFA important?

The primary reason all computer users should have MFA enabled is to enhance security. The more hoops a cyber criminal has to jump through, the harder it is to penetrate a network. Many industries have implemented strict standards to require MFA, including finance, health care, government and law enforcement. MFA paired with a robust firewall, company security policies and education provides the highest level of protection to keep your company safe from a cyber-security breach or attack.

Educational resources

KnowledgeWave is an educational resource for employees to gain insights necessary to understand the key components of MFA. All AM Data Service clients have access to KnowledgeWave. Contact us to learn more about this educational offering.

Duo Security

We recommend Duo Security to ensure safe computer practices are observed. Duo offers a variety of plans to fit your needs and budget.

If your business hasn’t implemented multi-factor authentication (MFA), please contact AM Data Service to get started.

Related information

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