It might be difficult to remember a time before MFA when you didn’t have to receive a text or email code beyond a normal password to get access to your accounts. But once upon a time, logging in was as simple as 1.) identity 2.) password 3.) entry.
The evolution of technology has brought us many incredible things since those days. However, it’s also created a reality in which one-factor authentication can’t stand up to the threat that cybercrime poses.
Simply put, multi-factor authentication is a way that systems use multiple methods of making sure that you are who you say you are. Think of it as presenting two different forms of ID when filling out some type of application. This helps the organization confirm your identity by requiring you to supply something that only you know or possess.
With something you know like a password or a PIN.
With something physical like a USB token.
With something physically unique to you, like your fingerprint or retina scan.
Some combination of all three.
When you need more than one method, that’s multi-factor authentication.
Why is MFA important?
MFA is a way to enhance a company’s security by making it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to locked information. When a password is all that’s required, and that password is compromised, their entry is granted. When more than one unique credential is required, however, it becomes much more difficult for cybercriminals to sidestep the security measures in place.
One example that many might be familiar with is phone or email MFA. After correctly entering your password, you will be prompted to decide between a unique code to be sent to your phone number or email on file. If you are the sole owner of that phone number or email address, then only you can receive that unique code, creating a wall between your information and cybercriminals that is much harder to penetrate.
How can MFA be hacked?
In recent years, many large companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have adopted MFA, confirming its overall effectiveness. However, it is important to note that no MFA tool is totally and completely impenetrable.
A few different ways that hackers can penetrate multi-factor authentication include, but are not limited to, the following:
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