March 12, 2021

What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) And Why is it Important?

Bones Ijeoma

CEO and co-founder

MFA is a cybersecurity measure that uses multiple security checkpoints and layers to confirm the identity of someone who is trying to login to a system.


Now that the significance of security and data protection has been realized, organizations and companies have started to make use of access control to build a strong fort against their data resources.

MFA i.e. Multi-factor Authentication is one of the most popular access control methods that allows companies to restrict and monitor who can see, change or delete the data.

It may seem to be a complex and technical process. But in reality, it is quite simple and straightforward. This article will explain what it is, how it works and the different types in a comprehensive and simple manner. In other words , you can call this a multi factor authentication for dummies guide.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

As indicated by the name itself, Multi-factor authentication is an authentication technique that requires the users to provide two or more than two verification factors to be able to gain access to the data or resource requested. It is a lot more reliable than single authentication since the security layers are more complex and hard to bypass.

Generally, one layer of the security and verification consists of a password or pin whereas the other layer asks the users to provide some sort of biometric verification. The name of the authentication technique depends on the number of layers that are deployed. If the user is asked to provide two authentications, it is called two factor authentication, in case of three authentication factors, we know the system as three factor authentication and in case of four subsequent layers, the same systems are known as 4 factor authentications.

You may be wondering, “why are multi-factor authentication methods significant?” Well (continue from this approach)

The significance of multi-factor authentication methods is the fact that this approach is stronger than the traditional username and password technique for user verification. Because of its strength  hackers and unauthorized people will find it harder to and make their way to the data. Therefore, companies can enjoy  peace of mind knowing that their sensitive resources are safe and will not be compromised.

How Does Multi-Factor Authentication Work?

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In order to truly understand the potential and strength of multi-factor authentication, it is important for one to have a thorough understanding of how the process of multi-factor authentication works.

Whenever a user tries to access a data resource that has limited access or is sensitive, the user is asked to verify his identity. But rather than asking them to provide a single means of verification, the process comprises several layers of verification. There can be as many layers and steps as desired but the minimum number of layers is at least two. As the sensitivity of the data that is being protected increases, so does the density of the layers that are deployed under multi factor authentication.

At times, to further complicate the security layers involved, the users may be asked to provide two different forms of authentications or factors to verify their identity, We will be discussing the different multi factor authentication factors in detail in the next section of the article.

If the user successfully provides the information, he is granted access to the resources that he is requesting. Otherwise, the access is denied. Depending upon the multi factor examples that are in consideration, if the access is denied, some systems also issue a warning that someone has just tried to access the system. This is done to warn the system administrators so any other similar attempt can be taken care of.

What Are The Multi-Factor Authentication Factors?

Another thing that you must know about multi-factor authentication options are the different factors that can be used for the verification and authentication. The authentication factors refer to the different means and methods through which the user can be verified to confirm that he truly is what he seems to be.

Some common multi-factor authentication factors are:


This factor is based on something that the user may know. For instance, the username and password approach. Knowledge factor asks the users to verify their identity based on some knowledge. The most common example a password or a pin.


Possession is another form of multi-factor authentication that has something to do with an item that the person may own. Generally, this refers to a physical token. For instance, you might have seen employees swiping cards to gain access to a resource. In this example, the scannable card is a possession that the users use to by-pass the system and get through the system to reach the resource that they require.


This refers to a factor that is inherent to the user’s identity. For instance, a fingerprint or retina scan. Since this factor is inherent, it is always unique to the user himself and can be linked directly to that person.


This is based on where the user is at the moment. Some resources are sensitive and cannot be accessed unless someone is in a particular location. The protection of these resources is done via location based authentication factor.


If you are interested in finding a way to secure your sensitive resources or deploy access control, you should surely be booking a MFA free virtual audit today. MFA authentication is one of the best ways to ensure that your sensitive resources are protected and not everyone can have access to them straight away. It makes use of multiple layers of security that prove to be a strong forte of protection. Moreover, bypassing all of the layers is also quite tedious so the chances of the resources being compromised or manipulated by unauthorized sources is reduced significantly.