What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) necessitates the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource such as an application, an online account, or a virtual private network (VPN). It is a core component of a strong identity and access management policy.
Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication
Instead of simply asking for a username and password, MFA requires additional verification factors, reducing the probability of a cyberattack.
- Protecting Against Data Breaches: The biggest reason you need MFA is to keep your critical business information safe from potential data breaches.
- Securing Your Digital Assets: By turning on multi-factor authentication for all accounts, you can ensure your password always has backup to keep you secure.
- Avoiding Stolen Credentials: Deploying an MFA tool blunts the effect of excessive password reuse by requiring users to have something more than passwords to authenticate their identities.
- Giving Peace of Mind: Multi-factor authentication gives you peace of mind; even if you become the victim of an attack, there is an added layer of security to protect you.
- Staying Ahead of Changing Cyber Threats: MFA protects you by requiring the cybercriminal who stole your password to have access to another device, such as your cell phone, or provide another piece of information to log in.
Multi-Factor Authentication Use Cases
Multi-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways for businesses to protect their systems and their customers’ online accounts from hacking, spamming, data theft, and more. Here are some common multi-factor authentication use cases in high-risk industries benefiting from incorporating MFA into their security protocols:
Financial institutions like banks are a top target for cyberattacks. Banks need to provide as much security as possible to protect customer data. If a hacker gains access to someone’s bank account, they can get a lot more than just money. They also have access to credit card information and social security numbers, leading to identity theft cases that can take years to resolve. Any organization that processes and stores card payment data, including banks, must comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This industry standard strongly encourages at least two separate forms of authentication before a user can access their account.
With greater data access, the healthcare industry finds itself at an increased risk for data breaches. Healthcare portals are now a common way to send electronic records, creating more opportunities for hackers to infiltrate both patient and provider accounts. Data breaches often target healthcare employees’ user credentials to gain access to a system, so internal multi-factor authentication should be a high priority for health providers. MFA is also an effective way to meet the HIPAA requirement for authorized access to electronically protected health information (ePHI).
While e-commerce sales continue to grow, fraud is growing nearly twice as quickly. E-commerce fraud can be easily prevented by adding MFA to online accounts. Not only does this reassure customers their data is protected, it also deters hackers who prefer to target weaker websites. By decreasing the risk of fraud with multi-factor authentication, e-commerce companies can increase their bottom lines and build a reputation for protecting customer data.
Government employees are prime targets for cyberattacks because they have access to sensitive data, such as financial, economic, and military records. Hackers typically target government employees using phishing scams, posing as trusted sources to access login credentials. The consequences of a cyberattack go beyond a compromised network. In just the past decade, we have seen high-profile data breaches that disrupted government services and affected millions of people whose private information was leaked. Multi-factor authentication guarantees only approved users can access government data, decreasing hackers’ possibility of infiltrating a system.
Multi-factor authentication deployment can also be used as the identity provider for a web service like Google Docs or Salesforce cloud apps. In this scenario, a login request uses the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and trusted certificates between the app and the multi-factor server for the additional authentication step. This is the method used by Google and Apple to add second-factor features to users’ Google accounts and Apple IDs, respectively. Using multi-factor authentication is a powerful way to protect your online accounts against cybercriminals. Use two or more authentication factors to verify your identity, including:
- Something you know: password, passphrase, or personal identification number (PIN)
- Something you have: security key or smart card
- Something you are: biometric like a fingerprint
Multi-Factor Authentication via Smart Cards
Smart cards are cards or cryptographic USB tokens used for several authentication purposes, including physical access (buildings, rooms), computer and network access, and some secure remote access solutions (virtual private networks, portals). Smart cards are a multi-purpose option for organizations looking to couple physical and digital access. They also offer stronger security than many other types of credentials.
Identiv’s MFA Solutions
Our multi-factor authentication solutions allow financial institutions, the healthcare industry, e-commerce, government agencies, and web services to provide exceptional customer, patient, and employee experiences with the strongest possible cybersecurity.
Our uTrust FIDO2 NFC Security Keys allow individuals, businesses, government agencies, and contractors to replace passwords with a secure, fast, scalable, cost-effective login solution. They support both contact (USB A/C) and contactless (NFC) use cases, provide multi-protocol FIDO U2F, FIDO2, smart card, and OTP support, are compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS, and are assembled in the U.S.A.
Our uTrust SmartID Secure Access Credentials are a multi-application family of credentials for converged access, securing data integrity and authenticity. They protect multiple credential holder’s identities from the door (physical access control) to data (logical access control). Based on digital certificates, our portfolio provides trusted authentication, digital signatures, secure remote access, desktop login, and data encryption.
The uTrust Token Family offers users secure mobility for mobile desktop applications in PC-connected mode and a contactless smart card token in autonomous mode for a host of contactless applications. All uTrust Tokens enable strong two-factor authentication, combining something users have (the token) with something they know (their PIN code).
CAC and PIV-approved SCR3310v2.0 is a small, robust PC-linked ISO/IEC 7816 contact USB smart card reader with backside mounting holes. It is the ideal PC-linked USB contact smart card reader for a wide variety of secure applications. Providing full compliance with all major industry standards, including ISO/IEC 7816, USB CCID, PC/SC, and Microsoft WHQL, the SCR3310v2 works seamlessly with virtually all contact smart cards and PC operating systems.
uTrust SmartFold SCR3500 Family are CAC and PIV-approved PC-linked USB contact smart card readers providing ISO/IEC 7816, CCID, PC/SC, EMV 2011, and GSA FIPS 201 compliance. You can use the readers for electronic ID, social security and loyalty programs, e-couponing, secure network logon, e-banking, online shopping, and gaming.
Our uTrust 3720 F Smart Card Reader/Writer Family integrates multi-technology and multi-ISO contactless interface options to support a wide variety of identification applications, including electronic identification and e-passport, e-banking, and e-commerce.
If you only use a password to authenticate a user, it leaves an insecure vector for attack. If the password is weak or was exposed elsewhere, how do you know if it is actually the user signing in with the credentials and not an attacker? By requiring a second form of authentication, you increase security; the additional factor is not easy for an attacker to obtain or duplicate. MFA is the easiest, most cost-effective cybersecurity solution.
Multi-Factor Authentication Solutions
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