Multifactor Authentication Definition: How to Set It Up

Are you wondering about the multifactor authentication definition and how you can set up multifactor authentication? Learn more.

In 2021, data breach costs skyrocketed from $3.86 million to $4.24 million. That's the highest it's been in 17 years.

With remote work now on the rise, it's little surprise that data breaches have both increased in frequency and also grown in cost. This is why it's so important for a business and its employees to know what the multifactor authentication definition is. 

With more employees working from home than ever, there are far more vectors for a hacker to attack. Stolen or misused credentials account for about 61% of all recent data breaches. Passwords that grant privileged access to a network are the most sought after by hackers since these grant access to vast amounts of sensitive data.

In this article, we'll take a look at cyber security through multifactor authentication, define what it is, explain how to set it up, and list out its many benefits.

Multifactor Authentication Definition

In December 2021, police discovered 225 million passwords that had been stolen and placed into a hacked cloud server to hide them.

So, what's a person to do to help combat this? Having a strong password helps. However, that alone isn't enough.

That's where multifactor authentication (or MFA) comes in. This type of tech security used to be known as two-factor authentication (2FA). However, the more factors the better.

In short, multifactor authentication is a type of mobile security or computer security technology. It is known as multifactor as it requires multiple methods to authenticate a user's identity.

The most traditional factor for authentication is a password. However, that alone is no longer enough now. That's when using either a hardware token or cell phone became popular as a secondary option for authentication. A user using their fingerprint soon came onto the scene next.

To look at it in the most simple terms, two-factor means that a user is making use of a system that only needs two of these factors. When a user has multifactor, that means they are authenticating their identity with more than two factors.

How to Set Up Multifactor Authentication

There is no uniform way for how to turn on multifactor authentication for a platform or program. Every provider of a service will have their own instructions for how to turn on MFA.

In this case, let's look at Microsoft 365. 

First, a user must go to the admin center for Microsoft 365. The user must select "Show All" and then "Azure Active Directory Admin Center". After that, the user should choose "Azure Active Directory, Properties, Manage Security defaults". From there, look under "Enable Security defaults" and choose "Yes". Once this is done, hit "Save".

Different Methods for MFA Authentication

There are several different authentication factors a user can use for verification. Each additional factor added to the sign-in process increases the level of security to assure that the user requesting access is truly who they say they are.

There are three common authentication factor categories: 

  • Knowledge factor
  • Possession factor
  • Inherence factor

A user makes use of MFA by combining two or more factors from each of these categories. Let's take a closer look at each category.

Knowledge Factor

Think of this type of authentication as knowledge-based.

The most common type of knowledge factor is where a user must answer a personal question for security. However, knowledge factors can also consist of four-digit personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords, as well as one-time passwords (OTPs).

Scenarios, where a user makes use of a knowledge factor, include:

  • Using a debit card at a gas station and entering a PIN at the pump
  • Downloading a virtual private network (VPN) client using a validated digital certificate
  • Giving information like a mother's maiden name to gain access to a system

Possession Factor

With possession factor, it is how the name sounds. A user must have a specific item within their possession to gain access to a system. This could include a token, badge, key fob, etc.

A typical scenario where a user makes use of a possession factor include:

  • A user needs a code delivered to their smartphone for mobile authentication
  • Using a USB hardware token by attaching it to a desktop to generate an OTP

Inherence Factor

An inherence factor is any biological trait that a user has and must use to confirm they are who they say they are to log in to a system. There are several different types of inherence factors, such as retina scan, fingerprint scan, facial recognition, etc.

A scenario where a user uses an inherence factor could look like:

  • Using facial recognition to unlock a smartphone
  • Pressing a thumb to the screen of the smartphone for it to scan the print and unlock it
  • Giving a digital signature at checkout in a retail store

Benefits of MFA

MFA is meant to help improve security access to a system or application. This is done through the use of either hardware or software.

There are several benefits to using multifactor authentication.

For one, the use of MFA can help reduce the likelihood of a security breach. MFA is also easy to set up by the user and is able to generate an OTP in real time, making it almost impossible for a hacker to break in.

Multifactor authentication can even allow a business to set restrictions for access to a system based on the time of day or even location. This means that if a hacker from outside of the state attempts to log into the local system, the foreign location will be the catalyst that shuts them out.

Use Professional IT Support

We hope this article served to answer any and all questions about what the multifactor authentication definition consisted of. If your business is in need of a trustworthy technology partner that can offer varied IT solutions, then NCG IT Solutions is here for you. Let us handle your IT problems so that you can get back to focusing on your business.

Contact NCG IT Solutions today to discuss how we can help strengthen the cyber security of your business.


Searching For A New IT Company In Roanoke, VA?

Call The Top IT Solutions Provider In Roanoke, VA.

Book Your IT Assessment With A NCG Tech Support Specialist.
Call (540) 400-7358.
© Copyright 2019 Network Computing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Sitemap