What is it?
Firstly, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) must not be confused with Multi-Step Authentication. I'll explain the differences below:
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is the process of authenticating account access, with factors from two or more of the following categories:
Something You Know: Username, Password, PIN number or answers to security questions
Something You Have: Smartphone, one-time passcode or Smart Card / Token
Something You Are: Biometrics, like your fingerprint, facial recognition, retina scanning or voice recognition.
Multi-Step Authentication (MSA) is the process of using more than one or more steps to authenticate account access, however the steps come from within the same category above. For example your account may currently require a username, a password and an answer to a security question all of which are Something You Know.
Securing your accounts
Whereas MSA may seem like it provides a double layer of security, the reality is all 3 of those factors of authentication come from the same source (knowledge). A malicious party could gain access to your credentials or compromise them through brute force without needing to get past any other form of security check.
With MFA enabled in the case above, a malicious party would also need access to the other factor, for example the passcode sent to your mobile device or your fingerprint to access your account and there lies the vast improvement in the security of your account by enabling MFA on your accounts.
If you wish to discuss how you can help secure your accounts from email and smartphones to Windows logins, get in touch today.