Multi-factor identification (MFA) involves additional security measures required when logging in to an online account. While it is true that every website requires the user to sign in with a password, MFA adds additional security.

Indeed, a website may require two or three MFA classifications, including identification via a face scan, the user’s voice, or optical recognition. Alternative MFA types include bank cards, keys, and secret tokens. For instance, an ATM user has a debit card combined with a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Bank and investment websites use MFA technology to protect account owners from hackers. You have most likely already used MFA software to log in to your online checking account or other financial services firms when you provided numerical codes in addition to your passwords. A Multi-Factor Authentication verification works as follows:

  • MFA software calls the phone number associated with your account.
  • MFA software may send your cell phone a verification text instead of a phone call.
  • You answer your phone and receive a numerical code.
  • Alternatively, you may receive the code via a text message.
  • Next, you enter the code into your online account via the website or an app.

A website views your phone as a trusted device. Consequently, receiving the code on your cell phone or landline phone indicates that you are not an impersonator attempting to hack into someone else’s account. MFA might also use your fingerprint as a form of identification. If you lose or forget your password, MFA is sometimes used to verify that you are the authentic account owner. Once verified, you can proceed to change your password.

Websites may require users to answer several security questions before they can access their accounts. Nevertheless, answers to security questions do not constitute the most secure types of MFA authentications.

Why is MFA Needed?

MFA is needed to ensure that both the small business owner and the consumer receive protection from people who want to steal identities or funds. MFA requirements protect small businesses from having to deal with identity theft issues. Furthermore, MFA provides an invisible protective wall surrounding the user or account owner. Think of MFA as a moat that defends your account from the malicious intents of ne’er-do-wells.

Unfortunately, hackers get their entertainment from observing users who choose weak passwords. MFA is needed because people often choose insufficient passwords that are too short or lack sufficient letters, numbers, and characters. In addition to selecting an inferior password open to security breaches, a user may enter the identical password on 100 different websites.

Using the same password numerous times can send alert signals to potential hackers. Hackers delight in finding users who continue to use the same passwords for months or years. Many users continue to use the same passwords for multiple applications and store them in insecure locations. Using software to store passwords also presents problems. Using a password manager to store one or more passwords is not always a good idea because of possible security vulnerabilities.

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What are the advantages of using MFA?

If you manage a small business, you may think it unnecessary to ask customers for MFA authentications. You may worry that your clients will regard receiving and entering numerical codes as heavy burdens on their time and patience. Nonetheless, your customers will thank you if your requirement to use MFA software results in protecting their identities and accounts. Benefits of using MFA software include:

  • Providing clients with additional account protection
  • Protecting a business by offering clients ways to defend themselves data-security
  • Preventing a breach of trust
  • Keeping clients happy because they feel secure

Using MFA technology as additional security measures can protect businesses, customers, and employees from hackers. Gaining access to valuable information, an accomplished hacker can wreak all kinds of havoc for everyone involved in the attack.

Hackers can steal medical records, social security numbers, and physical addresses. While the mere thought of a hacker gaining access to confidential account information may send shivers up and down your spine, your use of MFA technology can help prevent this type of situation from taking place.

What are the disadvantages of using MFA?

An account owner may not want to spend additional time verifying their account. It is already somewhat of a nuisance to enter a username and password for verification purposes. Receiving an email, voicemail, or text with a numerical code is an extra burden. Plus, the person then needs to take the time to enter the code before they can access their account.

A user may receive the dreaded message implying that the website does not recognize their computer. Lack of recognition may result from using a junk file cleaner. While deleting unnecessary information, a private usage data cleaner may also eliminate a trusted site verification. An updated browser can also cause a website to require additional identifiable information from the user.

A person may not have their phone within proximity. Perhaps someone recently stole the person’s mobile phone. If MFA requires receipt of a unique code via a voicemail, this can cause an issue. In this case, a user will not have the ability to access their online account.

MFA software is not 100% foolproof. A hacker can figure out how to mimic a person’s voice or even their iris. Yet utilizing MFA technology makes common sense because the authentication adds extra security.

How does MFA work?

Multi-Factor Authentication occurs when a person wants to log in to their online account. A one-time password (OTP) is a common requirement before an individual can access their online data. The code only works for a short time. Once the allotted time expires, the user will need to obtain a new OTP and enter it into the website.

A website that does not require the user to enter an OTP may ask the person to answer one or more security questions. As stated earlier, security questions are not foolproof because a hacker may have the ability to ascertain the correct answers.

Another method involves recognizing a person’s trusted device. In this scenario, the individual would have already granted the website permission to use the same cell phone or computer. Providing ample evidence constitutes the best way to describe how MFA works. A person who provides two or more pieces of evidence demonstrating correct identification can access their online account.

Even though requiring the use of MFA may cause a person to have a minor inconvenience, the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. Scrambling to find a cell phone to obtain a numerical code is worth the slight hassle if it means protecting the person from identity theft.

Small businesses benefit from using MFA software because the authentication method offers extra protection for their clients, resulting in satisfied customers. Every business owner knows that keeping a customer happy is a vital aspect of growing a company.

Business owners should familiarize themselves with Multi-Factor Authentication software before they choose a system. It is useful to determine if they can get support and whether the software is easy to use. Providing clients with an extra measure of safety, a small business owner has the satisfaction of going the extra mile for their customers.

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Jeremy Kushner BACS IT

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