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What is Multi Factor Authentication?

What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is multi-factor authentication to access a particular account or mobile app. You can set this up to protect sensitive data such as personally identifiable information or financial information. The login process adds an extra check on the user’s side, in addition to the usual credentials, to authenticate the user. These usual details are just a username and password.

Examples of strictures concerning the registration process are a scan of a fingerprint or entering a code (pin), which was received via SMS (via smartphone). Through MFA, the users must prove their identity with at least two different verification factors. A knowledge factor (user data) and an ownership factor (information obtained via SMS, app, token, …).

MFA makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to access a particular account or mobile application.

Why use MFA?

You write less and less on paper and you digitize almost everything. This applies both in your private sphere and at the work level. Because all data is being digitized, it is necessary to provide extra protection for this important data. Adding extra protection is done by using MFA.

By combining the known data (username and password) and the extra verification, you gain secure access to an account or mobile app. Ultimately, you don’t want important data to end up in the hands of a strange person or organization, right?

Difference Between MFA and 2FA

What MFA (multi-factor authentication) has already been explained above. 2FA stands for Two-Factor Authentication and is a derivative of multi-factor authentication. Just like MFA, this security method is an authentication method, in which you have to go through at least two steps to gain access to something. Where 2FA focuses on the number two (2-factor authentication Google), this form of authentication has increasingly become the umbrella term.

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Curious about the possibilities of MFA?

Whether it is a sole proprietorship, a small business, or a large multinational… Multi-factor authentication has become indispensable for every organization. It is an attractive form of cybersecurity, to prevent theft of credentials and hacking in general. The digital world and the introduction of working more in the cloud are very sensitive to cyber criminals or well-known data breaches. To prevent these data leaks, it is very important to provide extra protection for sensitive data.

If you think that multi-factor authentication will only complicate the sign-up process, you are wrong. Organizations can use advanced login options, such as Single Sign-On. You only need to log in once. Entering an access code or PIN code is sufficient. This also prevents login details from having to be changed every so often. However, the location must be taken into account. For a user who always logs in from the same location, the login process may be less extensive. For a user who logs in from different locations, it is more interesting to use a stricter login procedure.

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Why should financial services consumers use multi-factor authentication?

Every adult person has a bank account. When money is withdrawn from an ATM, you will have to identify yourself by using a PIN code. The bank card and associated PIN code are the usual registration procedure.

Signing in from a new location on your Facebook or Google account follows the same procedure. On the one hand, the user will enter his access code (known factor), but on the other hand, will also receive a second factor (possession factor). This will usually be an SMS code, received via the smartphone).

Is MFA effective and safe?

Cybercriminals can crack your password quite easily. Thanks to multi-factor authentication, MFA ensures that the risk of data leaks is reduced by 99.9%. Using this makes it virtually impossible for hackers to access certain accounts or mobile apps. This login method, therefore, ensures strict security of personal data.

Is MFA new?

MFA is not new, but it is on the rise due to further digitization. You have been using applications for longer than today, where multi-factor authentication is applicable. Just think of logging in to your mobile banking application, and logging in to various government institutions. Bank card readers, the Itsme app, or the electronic identity card (eID) play a central role in this.

But the login procedures for social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, …) are also subject to the field of application of MFA.

How do you set up MFA?

Set up MFA, you can do it yourself perfectly. Do you need help? Then you can always count on one of the numerous IT partners present. Everything starts with good preparation and timely informing all staff who will use this.

Within Office 365 you follow a clear step-by-step plan. Some tips for proper implementation are as follows:

  • Which systems do you want to secure?
  • Which MFA technology do you want to use?
  • Introduce a test phase first, before going live
  • Informing and training staff is the key

It is important to think carefully about the multi-factor authentication setup in advance. Make it as easy as possible for yourself and the rest of your organization, without touching the “security” aspect.

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Different forms of MFA

The introduction of MFA can be done in different ways. On the one hand, you can use codes that are received via SMS. You can also install the Microsoft Authenticator app. Physical items such as a USB stick or smart card can also be protected with these security measures. These items can be stolen, but the presence of MFA makes it almost impossible for the thief in question to log in.

Benefits of Multi Factor Authentication

The introduction of MFA comes with three major advantages. Before we go into detail, these advantages are mentioned: better security, compliance, and high reliability.

MFA improves security

It is easy for cybercriminals to obtain login details, forcing access to accounts. With this form of security, you prevent these situations.

MFA is a step toward compliance

Many organizations need to properly protect collected data. When these organizations use different forms of MFA, protection is compliant. Keep in mind that there are hefty penalties for not properly protecting personal data.

The reliability of MFA is highly regarded

The percentage of 99.9% safety is extremely high. Just think of the login procedures at banks, where it is unthinkable that a stranger could just gain access to your savings.

Disadvantages of MFA

Everything has its pros and cons, so it is with MFA. Fortunately, the disadvantages can be limited or even excluded in this way. In the initial phase, the security will be seen as an extra login step, which is therefore synonymous with loss of time. By properly informing everyone within the organization about the importance of this registration process or the possible application of Single Sign-on (already discussed above), these disadvantages can be countered.

When MFA is used, you must always have your smartphone or a specific digipass. Your smartphone may be broken, or you have forgotten your digipass at home. Fortunately, this login method offers the necessary flexibility. For example, you can log in using one-time passwords that are made known via your smartphone, if you do not have a digipass.

Multi Factor Authentication as part of the security scan

MFA is part of a reliable security scan. A good policy is indispensable to guarantee the security of digital data. Applying multi-factor authentication, where the login procedure does not necessarily have to take longer, significantly increases security. And this is for any user device at any location.

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