Understanding Multi-Factor Authentication
The prevalence and importance of passwords has greatly increased in recent years as more of our daily tasks require digital access. Today, many of our passwords are required to have more than eight characters and include letters, numbers, and special symbols. The days of using simple passwords like Password01 or 1234 are long gone. But even if we’re diligent enough to use password security best practices for all of our accounts, we can still be susceptible to outside access. That’s where multi-factor authentication comes in handy by ensuring there’s more than just one password guarding your account from successful hacking.
What is multi-factor authentication?
When you type in your password to log in to your online account, you are authenticating your identity with that company. Multi-factor authentication is a process that requires multiple forms of identity verification. This way, your account can’t be breached by a single compromised password.
How does it work?
Adding second forms of authentication to a password-protected online account drastically improves its security. Even if your password for a given account is compromised, the individual would not be able to access your account without the other form of authentication.
Multi-factor authentication can incorporate a variety of identification options. These can be broken down into several categories:
Something you own
- ID badge
- Driver’s license
- Phone that can receive text or call notifications
Something you know
- Username and password
- Pin number for debit or credit card
Something you have
- Facial identification
- Iris scan
Implementing additional forms of authentication can also tip you off to someone trying to access your account. For example, you may receive a text providing an authentication code for an account you have not recently used. When that happens, you can conclude your account just had an outside login attempt and you should reset your password.
Many vendors make it easy to use multi-factor authentication. If calling or texting seems too clunky, you can check out authenticator apps from Google and Microsoft. These allow you to set up one-time passcodes or push notifications. Authenticator apps can also work even if you don’t have consistently good cell service to receive calls or SMS texts.
Why is it needed?
Passwords alone are not up to the task of protecting your accounts. Hackers can discover passwords in a myriad of ways. Some examples include them monitoring unsecure public networks for vulnerable devices or sending social engineering emails to try and trick you into providing login information. They can also target and compromise company databases to attain password information for large numbers of users.
Set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts
New cybersecurity breaches are constantly developed by hackers. Make sure you’re keeping up by implementing a multi-factor authentication setup. If you find yourself in need of help, please contact the Abstract team. We’re happy to assist!