Multi-factor authentication (or MFA) is intended to provide multiple layers of protection that verify login attempts and other transaction types of users. MFA, sometimes referred to as two-factor authentication (or 2FA), provides an extra step to the authentication methods that top companies are using to prevent ransomware attacks and other various cybercrimes.

Personal security questions, fingerprints, and one-time codes generated by smartphones are a few examples of MFA used in day-to-day operations. Implementing multi-factor authentication solutions is important in cases where a primary security framework is damaged or disabled and confidential information is at risk. 

Here are 9 common ways to reduce your risk:


  1. Biometric Authentication
  2. Email Token Authentication
  3. Hardware Token Authentication
  4. Knowledge-based Authentication
  5. Mobile Authentication
  6. Risk-based Authentication
  7. Social Identity Verification
  8. Software Token Authentication
  9. Time-based One-time Passcode Authentication

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication requires facial recognition, a fingerprint, or an iris scan to verify the identity of a user attempting to log into a secure network and obtain access to private data and information. These kinds of characteristics are very specific and unique to a single individual which makes this a great option for an added layer of security.

Biometric authentication reduces the risk of cyber hacks by eliminating the need to use long, complicated passwords that are difficult to remember. Many devices and software manufacturers are building these biometric authentications into their systems and soon more companies will begin to incorporate them to enhance security solutions.

Email Token Authentication

Email token authentication requires a user to generate and send a one-time password to a secure email that will verify the user has permission to access information and/or data on a specific network. This kind of authentication becomes a convenient backup method if a user is unable to verify their identity because the device was stolen or misplaced.

Hardware Token Authentication

The most secure method of multi-factor authentication is hardware token authentication. A hardware token is a smaller physical device, such as dongles and USBs, that can authorize a user to connect with a specific network. Hardware token authentication is usually reserved for the most at-risk businesses such as banking, insurance, and investment companies because it can be the most costly method of an authentication solution.


Choosing the right MFA technology can help prevent hackers from accessing a vulnerable networks' confidential information and targeting a business or individual in one of these cyberattacks.


Knowledge-based Authentication

Currently, most websites require users to have knowledge-based authentication systems in case of an event where an unauthorized user steals the username and password information of an authorized user. Knowledge-based authentication prompts any user attempting to access a network to pass an extra layer of security by providing answers to personal questions set up by the authorized user. 

Mobile Authentication

Mobile authentication verifies a user's identity by using a mobile device for secure access to a network. Mobile authentication can also be used to verify the device itself. The most common way to verify users with a mobile device is randomly generated one-time passcodes (OTP). Alternatively, a user can opt to receive an automated phone call that requires the user to press a key to confirm their identity.

Risk-based Authentication

Risk-based authentication (RBA) is not considered a multi-factor authentication type but can be used in conjunction with one. RBA monitors things like location, device, and user keystrokes to reduce the frequency of multi-factor authentication verifications. An RBA system will recognize when a user logs in from their "home" device and location and avoids asking for verification repeatedly.

When an RBA system detects a login from an unknown location and/or device than the user's usual location and device, the RBA system will require the user to complete an extra action, such as one of the MFA solutions, to access the network.

Social Identity Verification

Social identity verification uses authenticators like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest allowing users to log in to other authorized social platforms. Although it’s fast and convenient, using social verification as your only method with a username/password is not recommended in most cases.

Recently, social media has become a high-value target for most hackers looking to capture personal information on an intended target that could be used for malicious activities. Pairing social identity verification with another multi-factor authenticator, like a biometric authenticator solution, is strongly recommended.

Software Token Authentication

Installing software token authentication on mobile devices can provide almost the same level of security as hardware token authentication provides. These app-based tokens work by generating a different one-time login PIN with each use. It can be a great alternative to carrying a USB or dongle hardware token.

Time-based One-time Passcode Authentication

Time-based one-time passcode authentication (TOPT) requires a user to enter an alphanumeric code within a set timeframe. This happens after a system or network prompts the user to enter a mobile phone number or email address. The user will be required to enter the code in the system before time runs out to access the network.


With so many options of multi-factor authentication to implement, small businesses and large corporations can build up their security measures and protect important, confidential information from high-risk cyberattacks. It is important to choose the right solution for the right level of risk.

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