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Multifactor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) takes two or more authentication methods from different categories to confirm a user’s identity, MFA is increasingly important for secure networks. It is a two-step verification mechanism that satisfies user demand for an easy sign-in process while protecting data and apps. Through several verification methods, such as phone, SMS, and mobile app verification, it offers robust authentication. MFA’s security comes from its layered approach.

Multifactor Authentication

As depicted in the diagram, for authentication, the user needs a password and an additional phone or fingerprint to completely authenticate. So, we can imagine it’s like an ATM, where the way to gather information about any bank account requires both a physical card and a personal PIN. By requiring two or more pieces 
for full authentication, multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds protection to the user’s identity.


Component of MFA:

These are divided into three groups, they are as follows: 

  1. Something you are familiar with, such as a password or a response to a security question.
  2. Something that you own, such as a smartphone app that receives notifications or a token-generating device.
  3. Something you are—usually a biometric trait like a fingerprint or face scan, which is employed on many mobile devices.

Why do we use it?

Well, it reduces the impact of credential exposure and improves identity security. If we use MFA, a malicious hacker will need a user’s password as well as their phone or fingerprint to fully authenticate. So, a hostile hacker will be unable to exploit those credentials to authenticate.
Malicious hackers face a considerable hurdle when it comes to compromising numerous authentication factors. Even if a malevolent hacker learns the user’s password, it’s meaningless unless they also have control of the trusted device. If the user misplaces the gadget, anyone who discovers it will be unable to use it unless they have the user’s password.

Choosing Supported Authentication Methods

When we enable MFA, we have the option of selecting which authentication methods will be available. We should always support multiple methods so that we have an alternative if their preferred method fails. We have the option of using one of the following methods:


  1. Mobile App Verification Code: In this case, an OATH verification code can be retrieved via a mobile authentication app such as the Microsoft Authenticator app, which is then typed into the sign-in screen. This code is changed every 30 seconds, and the software functions even when there is no internet connection.
  2. Call to a phone: For example, Azure can dial a phone number provided by the user. The user then uses the keypad to confirm the authentication. This is the preferred technique for backup.
  3. Sending a text message to a phone: We can send a text message to a phone with a verification code. The user then completes the authentication by entering the verification code into the sign-in window.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these:

  1. Password: We can’t make this method inactive; this is the default method.
  2. Security Questions Users are asked questions in these security questions that they can only answer during registration. A user’s questions and answers cannot be read or changed by an administrator.
  3. Windows Hello for Business: Windows Hello for Business is a biometric authentication system that uses facial recognition or fingerprint matching to deliver secure, fully integrated biometric authentication.
  4. Security keys from Fast Identity Online (FIDO)2 are a password-less authentication solution based on industry standards that can be used in any form factor. At the sign-in screen, users can register and then choose a FIDO2 security key as their primary method of authentication. These USB-based FIDO2 security keys can also, be Bluetooth or NFC-enabled.
  5. Microsoft Authenticator app: By sending a notification to the user’s smartphone or tablet, the Microsoft Authenticator app helps block fraudulent transactions and prevents unauthorized access to accounts. By viewing the notification, users can accept or reject the request.
  6. Hardware OATH tokens: It is an open standard that outlines the creation of one-time passwords. These tokens are available for purchase by customers from any seller of one-time passwords. These tokens are available for purchase by customers from any seller. But keep in mind that secret keys are only allowed to include 128 characters, so not all tokens may be compatible with them.
  7. OATH software tokens: computer programs Applications like the Microsoft Authenticator app and other authenticator apps are frequently used to generate OATH tokens, and the secret key, or seed, that is entered into the app and utilized to generate each OTP is produced by Azure AD (Active Directory).
  8. Text message: To proceed, the user must type the code into the browser within a predetermined time frame. When a user logs in, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds more protection than simply using a password.

Authentication Method Strength and Security

Review the available authentication methods when we deploy features like multi-factor authentication in your organization. Choose the ways that meet or exceed your requirements in terms of security, usability, and availability. Where possible, use authentication methods with the highest level of security.




The disadvantage is that multi-factor authentication takes longer. Not only can require two or more types of verification to lengthen a procedure, but the setup itself can be time-consuming. Multi-factor authentication cannot be set up by a company on its own. It has to be done by a third party. Despite its drawbacks, MFA is still considered one of the greatest levels of security that all firms should strive to deploy to protect their employees, networks, and consumers.
Last but not least, here’s how some of the drawbacks of multi-factor authentication can be turned into benefits:

  1. Consider a dedicated vendor management system.
  2. Consider a specialized vendor management system.
  3. Replace your VPN with a better, more complete solution instead of spending money on an expensive one.

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