Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has been a popular concept in the cybersecurity industry for a long time now. Most of us have experimented with multi-factor authentication, whether to secure an email address, log into a service, or carry out a bank transaction. MFA requires the use of two or more authentication factors, including knowledge (something you know), possession (something you have), and inherence (something you are).
Passwords are the world’s oldest method for single-factor authentication. They have been used by computer systems since 1961 when password login was introduced by the first computer system. Regardless of who invented the MFA, authentication is becoming increasingly popular.
The EvolutionOf Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA providers have been dwelling ineffectively on security and usability for a long time. Although private individuals opposed MFA because of friction problems, businesses dismissed MFA because of the difficulty and costs associated with software and hardware acquisition, on-site implementation, and maintenance.
The ubiquity of smartphones encouraged the adoption of the MFA
The advent and mass adoption of smartphones, however, has reduced problems that users may encounter during authentication. Being able to generate both possession and biometric factors from one location (i.e., the phone of the user) offered users a substantial decrease in disturbance levels. Via SMS or email and key push notifications, mobile phones endorse initiatives such as one-time passwords (OTP).
2FA receives global exposure
Besides, the positive trend in MFA implementation has been solidified by cloud technology, business connectivity, and the increased use of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
When major brands like Apple, Facebook, and eBay started implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) more regularly, MFA gained worldwide attention. Two-factor authentication requires a user, before being allowed to access an account, to provide two different types of identity proof.
2FA may include, for example, the use of a username and password (knowledge-based factor) followed by one-time passwords via email or SMS (a possession-based factor) or biometric factors such as a distinctive pattern of typing.
Regulations and legislations, like PCI-DSS, NIST, and PSD2 mandate the need for improved consumer data security against unlawful access. Policies, protocols, and what organizations need to do to execute authentication mechanisms are addressed. These laws apply not only to government departments but also to businesses in a number of sectors, such as business security, finance, banking, software services, and healthcare.
In multi-factor authentication, three categories of factors are available to validate a person with proven credentials:
Knowledge: This refers to something you know. To help you understand the disadvantages of single authentication methods, a simple look at authentication factors is enough. To many, these lower assurance variables are no longer viewed, particularly on their own, as trustworthy. Security codes sent through text messages, for example, can be intercepted or diverted, and responses to security questions are easily accessible via public records, social media, or even through guessing.
Possession: This refers to something you have. More safe factors such as one-time password codes (OTP), push notifications, app-generated codes, security tokens, smart cards, and physical keys are being transferred. These may, however, be stolen or lost, and they indirectly cause extra expenses and disruption.
Inherence: This refers to something you are. You can date biometrics back to the 19th century. But, because of technological developments in the industry, it has gained prominence in the digital age. Although finally taking off in the consumer space, biometrics’ invasive existence remains a key reason for skepticism. In addition, since they can be duplicated, certain biometrics, such as fingerprints and facial scans, are less secure. Others are just too cumbersome, like speech recognition. Taken together, all of these items pose challenges to the adoption of MFA by users.
The face of cybersecurity has been changed by the evolution of multi-factor authentication. Technological advances offer affordable, user-friendly authentication with multiple factors, which is the primary vector in any robust scheme for data security.