Utter the term multifactor authentication among less technically savvy individuals and the immediate reaction is one of fear, anxiety, or intimidation. Which is a bit oxymoronic considering that multifactor authentication is an added layer of security for individuals and companies, alike – meant to ease anxiety and squash fear by providing more security for sensitive personal information. But, people fear what they don’t understand, even when it’s meant to help them. Learning multifactor authentication is important so we can better understand it.  

Multifactor

  • Multi = more than one.
  • Factor = something that helps produce a result

So, simply put, multifactor means multiple ways to produce a result. In this case, the result you’re trying to produce is additional security for your online accounts, bank statements, devices, or access to an organization’s internal systems.

Authentication

Anytime you enter a username and password, you’re providing authentication that you are who you say you are.  You’re authorized to view the information that you’re trying to access.

So in its simplest form, authentication is just verification of your identity.

Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor + authentication = multiple ways to verification of your identity.

Practical Application

Since we’re learning multifactor authentication, what does that mean for your daily life.  Well, you’re probably already using multifactor authentication if you have a Google account or access your bank account online.  

Typically, your username and complex password serve as your first factor of authentication. The second factor of authentication comes in a variety of forms.

Some applications will send a pass code to your mobile device. Some ask you to open an app on your phone. Some require a facial or fingerprint scan (depending on your device’s capabilities). Though it comes in many forms, its purpose is to increase security for your accounts and devices. If this second form of authentication isn’t performed, access isn’t granted.

If your username and password is compromised, the second form of authentication protects you by limiting access to only allow people that can provide that second form of authentication.

Take the time to set up multifactor authentication for all of your accounts. It’s built into many applications and devices, but you can also add it yourself if you search for authentication apps on your App Store. It takes some time to set up, but the additional security and peace of mind is well worth the effort.

Acorn+Arrow has years of experience advising organizations on marketing and leadership. We know a little about cybersecurity too. Contact us to see how we can serve you.

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