What does multi-factor authentication mean?

Multi-factor authentication is an additional layer of security added to your login process. This ensures an unauthorized user is not able to login to your account. Two-factor authentication requires two pieces of confirmation to gain access while multi-factor authentication requires two or more pieces. Factor examples are passwords, PINs, fingerprints, smartphone apps, and a multitude of other options.

What are the types of factors?

The four types of factors are knowledge factors, possession factors, inherent factors, and location factors. Knowledge factors are the most frequently used type of authentication and include passwords, passphrases, and Personal Identification Numbers(PIN). Typically, knowledge factors are memorized or kept in a secure location by the user. Possession factors are something that only the user has like a software token or cellphone that is typically sent a passcode as a way to authenticate. Inherent factors are aspects that only belong to that user, such as fingerprint, face, or voice. Location factors are factors that are authenticated by the user being at a precise location, using methods like GPS or IP address.

What does multi-factor authentication prevent?

With the growing number of data breaches, scams, and hacking schemes, your employer may require you to use multi-factor authentication or you simply may desire the peace of mind that it provides. Most importantly, multi-factor authentication prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to your accounts. It is unlikely that an unauthorized user has more than one piece to the authentication factor puzzle. For example, someone may have your login information but they probably wouldn’t have access to the passcode sent to your cellphone. As a result, your employer may require you to use two-factor authentication to login to your work email to prevent hacking.

How do I get multi-factor authentication?

There are several different apps that offer two-factor authentication such as Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, and Authy. imore.com has step-by-step instructions on setting up two-factor authentication for cellphones, social media, and shopping online.

Can I turn off multi-factor authentication?

You should be able to turn off two-factor or multi-factor authentication by going to the security section of the application or device. However, this will require you to use any prior authentication methods to disable the two-factor or multi-factor authorization.

You can read more on cellphone security on this blog post, Your Cellphone is an Easy Target for Hackers.