What is multifactor authentication?
In the digital era, security is a crucial issue for any company handling sensitive information. Identity verification has become a fundamental aspect to guarantee data protection and prevent fraud. One of the most effective tools in this regard is multifactor authentication. In this article, we will delve into what multifactor authentication is and how it can help strengthen security in digital onboarding platforms.
What is multifactor authentication?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an identity verification process that requires the use of at least two of the following three factors: knowledge, possession and inherent characteristics. These factors typically fall into:
- Knowledge. Something the user knows, such as a password, PIN, or answer to a security question.
- Possession. Something the user possesses, such as a cell phone, smart card or security token.
- Inherent characteristics. Something the user is, such as a fingerprint, voice or facial recognition.
The combination of these factors significantly increases security compared to password-based authentication alone, as attackers must overcome multiple barriers to gain unauthorized access to an account or platform.
What are the benefits of multifactor authentication?
Multifactor authentication offers a number of key benefits for businesses:
- Increased security. By requiring multiple factors for authentication, unauthorized access to accounts or platforms is made more difficult, as attackers would have to compromise multiple factors at the same time.
- Fraud reduction. Multifactor authentication helps prevent fraud, as it is much more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive user information.
- Regulatory compliance. Many regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, require stronger security measures to protect personal information. Multifactor authentication meets these requirements and avoids potential legal penalties.
- Better user experience. Although multifactor authentication adds an additional layer of security, it can be implemented in a transparent and non-intrusive manner for users, which does not negatively affect their experience.
How does multifactor authentication work?
The multifactor authentication process is generally performed in three steps:
- User identification. The user enters their username and password (knowledge factor) as the first step to access a platform or account.
- Possession verification. The system prompts the user to provide a second factor, usually via a mobile device, such as a code that is sent via SMS or a push notification in an app. This verifies that the user also has physical access to the possession factor.
- Biometric authentication. In some cases, a third factor can be requested based on inherent features, such as a fingerprint scan or facial recognition, for further identity verification.
It is important to mention that multifactor authentication can be applied in different contexts, such as logging into online platforms, accessing corporate networks or performing financial transactions.
What types of factors can be used in multifactor authentication?
Multifactor authentication offers a variety of options in terms of factors that can be combined to increase security:
- Password. Password remains one of the most common factors in multifactor authentication, although it is advisable to combine it with another additional factor.
- Security token. Security tokens are physical devices that generate a unique, temporary code used for authentication.
- Smart card. Smart cards store authentication data and, in combination with a card reader, can be used as an authentication factor.
- Mobile device. Using a mobile device to receive security codes via SMS, phone calls or push notifications is a popular option.
- Biometrics. Biometric factors, such as facial recognition, fingerprints or voice, are based on unique characteristics of each individual and provide an additional level of security.
Considerations for implementing multifactor authentication
When it comes to implementing multi-factor authentication in an enterprise, there are several considerations to take into account:
- Usability. It is critical to find the right balance between security and usability to ensure a good user experience. Multifactor authentication should not be overly complicated or create frustration.
- Cross-platform compatibility. The multifactor authentication solution must be compatible with the platforms used by the company, whether it is a mobile application, a web platform or internal administration systems.
- Scalability. The solution must be scalable to accommodate enterprise growth and support a large number of concurrent users without degrading the authentication experience.
- Upgrades and maintenance. It is important to have a reliable vendor that offers regular updates and technical support to ensure the continued security of multifactor authentication.
Multifactor authentication is an essential tool for strengthening security in digital onboarding platforms. It requires at least two authentication factors, such as knowledge, possession and inherent characteristics, to verify the identity of users. By combining these factors, security is significantly improved and the risks of unauthorized access and fraud are reduced. In addition, multi-factor authentication complies with legal requirements and provides a better user experience.
If you are looking for an identity verification solution for your company, multifactor authentication is an option you should not overlook.