What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Since its inception in 2013, the globe has celebrated World Password Day every first Thursday in May.

Protecting our online accounts from phishing and data breaches has never been more relevant now that most of us work remotely. Observing World Password Day promotes cybersecurity and better password habits, especially when we are prone to cyberattacks and data breaches. 

Keeping strong passwords is one way to prevent hacking. However, according to Google, 75% of people in the U.S. feel frustrated trying to manage their passwords. According to research sponsored by Yubico, 39% of users reuse passwords across workplace accounts.

Password managers keep passwords safe, and using multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides an additional layer of protection to online accounts.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to secure your online accounts
  • What multi-factor authentication is
  • The importance of multi-factor authentication

Securing Your Online Accounts

Most people recognize they need to secure their online accounts. However, you might find it challenging to maintain your passwords, thus resorting to memorable and common passwords.

The problem with these simple, standalone passwords is that they’re easy to guess, leading to data breaches. In fact, 27% of users tried to guess passwords, with 17% getting them correctly. 

Technology, such as password managers, empowers the use of complex passwords while eliminating the need to remember them. 

We recommend enabling multi-factor authentication with the most common password managers to ensure utmost account security.

What Multi-Factor Authentication Is

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an authentication method used to verify a user, application, or device by presenting several identifiers. 

MFA’s used to provide an additional layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to their accounts, reducing the likelihood of cyberattacks, such as phishing and data breaches.

Multi-factor authentication is a core component of a strong identity and access management (IAM) policy. IT security professionals consider it the most effective form of security control.

How Multi-Factor Authentication Works

Multi-factor authentication works by requesting additional layers of verification during sign-in. Users must verify their identities using at least two out of three different factors.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a form of MFA that only requires verification of two credentials.

Types of Multi-Factor Authentication Methods

MFA commonly asks for three types of information:

  • Things you know, such as your password and PIN.
  • Things you have, such as a software token, smartphone, or email. Adding this verification step confirms your identity because it’s unlikely for a hacker to have stolen both your password and smartphone.
  • Things you are, which include biometric details such as fingerprint, voice, or face recognition.

Other types of MFA methods include:

  • Location-based authentication. This is a more advanced type of MFA that looks at a user’s IP address and geolocation. Suppose you typically access your account from an IP address in location A and suddenly try to access your account from an IP address in location B. In that case, the program will request another verification, such as a one-time PIN.

Apple usually implements this type of authentication.

  • Risk-based authentication. Also known as adaptive authentication, this type of multi-factor authentication analyzes context and behavior when users are trying to access the account, such as:
  • From where is the user trying to access the information?
  • When is the user trying to access information?
  • What kind of device is used? Is it a device already associated with the account?

The risk level is assessed based on the user’s behavior and how these questions are answered.

For instance, if you usually access your account through your work computer at 8 a.m. on weekdays, you may only be required to enter your username and password. However, if you try to access your account through another computer at another time, you may be asked to enter a one-time PIN.

How To Secure Your Account

In addition to multi-factor authentication, here are some ways to secure your online accounts:

  • Make your passwords long (and strong).
  • Log off when you’re done using the program.
  • Make sure your local computer is secure.
  • Ensure you visit websites with SSL certificates.
  • Use password managers.
  • Don’t store passwords on your computer and phone.
  • Use programs and applications that support multi-factor authentication. For web hosting, Bluehost is one of the most secure and trusted names in the business.

Final Thoughts: Using Multi-Factor Authentication for Data Breach Protection

These days, when data breaches are common, it’s essential to leave no stone unturned when it comes to account and website security.

Keep passwords safe using password managers and supplement your efforts by following the best website security practices and using programs and applications that support multi-factor authentication, such as Bluehost.

Sign up for a Bluehost hosting account to enjoy all of its security features.

Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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