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    How to Implement Multi-Factor Authentication?

    Multi-factor authentication (MFA) inserts an additional security layer by ensuring that users give more than one piece of identifying information. A mix of information the user knows (such as secret questions, pins, passwords, etc.) and something the user has (such as hardware tokens, cards, phone, etc.) is usually needed.

    Let’s discuss why we should implement multi-factor authentication and the different ways of MFA implementation.

    Why Implement Multi-Factor Authentication?

    Instances of cyberattacks involving stolen and compromised passwords are increasing exponentially. Numerous systems that have the basic username and password combinations have been hacked. Implementing multi-factor authentication in such a scenario would prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts even if the password is compromised. The extra security layer that MFA provides ensures your account is safe!

    Various Ways of Implementing MFA

    The different ways are:

    · Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP)

    · Electronic Mail (Email)

    · Short Message Service (SMS)

    · Push Notifications

    MFA Using TOPT

    TOTP involves generating a one-time password from a shared secret key and using a particular cryptographic feature to construct the current timestamp. In a standard multi-factor framework using TOTP, the process flow includes enrolment and login.

    The process for enrolment is:

    • User logs in to a website/app using a username and password.

    • If the credentials are correct, the next move would be to enable two-factor authentication.

    • Shared-key (text or QR code) is requested.

    • The key is saved by a TOTP app (e.g., Google authenticator).

    • Enabling of two-factor authentication.

    The login process is:

    • User logs in to a website/app using a username and password.

    • If all credentials are correct, the user is guided to another form where he/she is required to enter a one-time code.

    • The server tests the validity of the code, and eventually authenticates the user.

    The alternative to this is using RSA Keys. Essentially, RSA authentication is based on two factors: a password/pin and an authenticator. A hardware or software token could be the authenticator.

    MFA Using Email

    The procedure is as follows:

    • User logs in to a website/application using his/her username and password.

    • On the server, a unique one-time code is created and sent to the user via email.

    • User gets the code from the email and enters it in the app.

    • If it is correct, authentication of the user is complete.

    MFA Using Short Message Service (SMS)

    The procedure for a standard SMS-based multi-factor program also includes enrolment and login.

    The enrolment process goes as follows:

    • With a username and password, users log in to a website/application.

    • Users are asked to enter a valid phone number, most likely on the settings page.

    • On the server, a unique, one-time code is generated and sent to the phone number.

    • Users enter the codes in the app, and authentication is done.

    The login procedure is as follows:

    • User logs in to a website/application with a username and password.

    • On the server, a unique one-time code is generated and sent to the registered user’s phone number.

    • The user enters the code.

    • If it is correct, authentication of the user is complete, and the session starts.

    MFA Using Push Notifications

    The procedure for using push notification in a standard multi-factor program is as follows:

    • User logs in to a website/application using username and password.

    • The Guardian app receives a push notification, which is a login request, on the user’s mobile device.

    • The user approves the request and is logged in automatically.

    Conclusion

    We discussed the different ways of integrating multi-factor authentication in an application/website and the details as to how it works. MFA implementation is one of the most effective ways of boosting cybersecurity and data protection.

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