Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security approach which uses additional types of required inputs from a user at the time of a login attempt to help confirm identity. The additional requirements come in the form of a combination of the following:
- Something you know (password)
- Something you have (a phone, security token, or smart ID/badge)
- Something you are (biometric scan--like a fingerprint, retina, or face)
- In other cases, location or calendar data may be used for conditional access rules
- Behavioral data such as typing speed can even be used to help validate identity
Microsoft reports based on their research that MFA can prevent over 99.9% of account compromise attacks.
MFA Examples & Enablement Process:
The popularity of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and the rapid advancements in the field of biometric scanning have given way to the mass availability of the related technologies. These factors have led to MFA security being currently available for use in many forms by every type of user. The most commonly used Multi-Factor Authentication methods are the following:
A notification is sent directly to a device/app that prompts for approval or allows for a provided code to be entered to complete authentication.
One-Time Password (OTP)/Security Code
- A code sent via email to a trusted email address
- A call made to a trusted phone number
- A code generated by a software security token or authenticator app
- A code generated by a hardware security token
- Fingerprint, face, retina (eye), voice, hand, or iris (eye) scan
- Microsoft’s Windows Hello, Apple’s Touch ID & Face ID, Android’s fingerprint and retinal scanners are popular biometric scanning solutions among end-user devices.
While the process to enable MFA various across the many available types of devices, accounts, and operating systems will vary, the process to enable MFA-based security typically involves an initial setup. The setup process for MFA typically identifies which other methods of authentication should be trusted and then performs a confirmation test before updating their records with any new trusted authentication method.
For more information on how to enable MFA on each specific device or service you have, consult the manufacturer's support site. In many cases, however, you can simply search for “MFA,” “Multi-Factor Authentication,” “2FA,” or “2 Factor Authentication” in the settings or alternatively look for a settings category such as “security,” “account,” “login,” or possibly “advanced” and browse to the option to activate MFA security.
Some examples of how to setup MFA in common applications are listed below:
How to setup two-step verification with your Microsoft Account
Turning two-step verification on or off for your Microsoft account
Secure access to resources with multifactor authentication
Two-factor authentication for Apple ID
Manage two-factor authentication from iPhone
Amazon - About Multi-Factor Authentication
Amazon - What is Two-Step Verification?
Yahoo - Add two-step verification for extra security
Yahoo - 2-Step Verification with a Security Key
Zoom - Setting up and using two-factor authentication (2FA)
Zoom - Secure Your Zoom Account with Two-Factor Authentication
Turn Two-Step Verification On and Off
Venmo 2-Factor Authentication Set up – Protect & Secure Account
Keep your account safe on Cash App
PayPal - Email, encryption, and other protections
PayPal - How do I turn on or off 2-step verification for PayPal account login?
What is two-factor authentication and how does it work on Facebook
Facebook - Login Alerts and Two-Factor Authentication
Twitter - How to use two-factor authentication
What's two-factor authentication? - Instagram Help Center
Two-factor authentication - Instagram Help Center
HTG - How to Turn on Two-Factor Authentication on Instagram
BI - How to set up two-factor authentication on Instagram to help protect your account
For a deeper dive on MFA concepts, refer to the following sites that have created guides on the topic and updates on the state of MFA:
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