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Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Simple Definition for Beginners: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security method that requires users to provide two or more forms of verification to access an account or system, typically combining something they know (e.g., a password) with something they have (e.g., a mobile device) or something they are (e.g., biometric data). Common Use Example: When logging into an online banking account, users may need to enter their password (something they know) and then confirm their identity using a one-time code sent to their mobile phone (something they have) to complete the authentication process. Technical Definition for Professionals: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA) or strong authentication, enhances security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of evidence to verify their identity before granting access. Key aspects of MFA include: · Authentication Factors: o Something you know (e.g., password, PIN) o Something you have (e.g., smartphone, hardware token, smart card) o Something you are (e.g., fingerprint, facial recognition, voice pattern) · MFA Methods: o One-time codes sent via SMS, email, or authenticator apps (e.g., Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator) o Hardware tokens or smart cards that generate authentication codes o Biometric authentication using fingerprints, facial recognition, or voiceprints o Geolocation checks to verify the user's physical location o Time-based OTPs (One-Time Passcodes) generated by authenticator apps or devices · Workflow: o During login, users enter their username and password as the first authentication factor (something they know). o They then provide a second factor (something they have or something they are), such as entering a code from their mobile device or scanning a fingerprint. o If both factors match the user's credentials and are verified, access is granted. · Security Benefits: o Increases security by adding an additional layer of protection beyond passwords, reducing the risk of unauthorized access due to stolen or compromised credentials. o Mitigates various security threats, including phishing attacks, credential stuffing, and password theft. o Enhances compliance with regulatory requirements and security standards that mandate strong authentication practices. · User Experience: o Balances security with usability by providing convenient and user-friendly MFA methods, such as push notifications, QR code scanning, or fingerprint recognition. o Offers flexibility for users to choose MFA methods that suit their preferences and devices. Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication strengthens security defenses, safeguards sensitive data, and reduces the likelihood of account compromise in today's evolving threat landscape.

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