2FA has become ubiquitous over the past decade. But in reality, it has been used since the very early days of computer security. In the early days of software, expensive software suites usually came with what is called a “dongle”. This dongle was a physical device that plugged into a port on your computer. So you had a login name, password and dongle to run the software suite.
Highly secure systems have always required you to insert a card or USB to access them. But when smartphones started to become more mainstream, the smartphone itself started to become the second factor.
“Two-factor” usually refers to something you “know” (password) and something you “have” (an email, smartphone, or other device). And it’s a very secure method, because it means no one can hack into your accounts with just one password.
For usability reasons, most sites don’t ask for 2FA every time. Instead, they start recognizing the device you’re using. Then, if you’re using a device they don’t recognize, they prompt you to verify that device.
Multi-factor authentication: a step beyond
First: all things being equal, MFA is always more secure than 2FA. 2FA is MFA, but not all MFA is 2FA. What does that mean?
2FA uses two elements. Multi-factor authentication uses two or more elements for authentication. Using a password and an email address, for example, will always be inherently less secure than using a password, an email address and also a device. physical.
But “other things being equal” are taken into account. For example, using a password and a physical biometric scanner can still be more secure than using a password, email, and dongle. You can compromise a password or email and steal a dongle. But you’re much less likely to be able to counter a high-level physical biometric scanner.
That’s really the only difference. 2FA uses two factors and multi-factor uses more. Multifactor is increasingly popular today because it is inherently safer. It can still be poorly implemented.
2FA vs. MFA
There are more things to consider, of course, than just security. Regarding MFA vs. 2FA, there is also the user experience to consider.
Consider this: in many systems, employees are asked to create a new password every month. But this often leads to a less secure system. Why? Because employees can’t remember passwords so often, so they start writing them down.
When users find a cumbersome system to use, they start finding ways around it. And because they try to work around this problem, they end up making it less secure.
MFA is more secure than 2FA. But many companies still use 2FA for two reasons. First, it’s cheaper and easier to install. Most software suites support 2FA, but not all of them support MFA. Second, it’s easier for the user. The user does not want to have to follow all these verification methods.
This is not necessarily a plea to avoid MFA. Rather, companies should be made aware of the challenges of MFA and MFA adoption and should strive to make it as simple and easy as possible.
Using 2FA or MFA – or no password
Whether an organization chooses to use 2FA or MFA, it must use one of them. 2FA has become an industry standard for a reason. Without 2FA, it is very easy to break into accounts. This is especially true as more and more employees work from home and work from a multitude of devices.
Businesses must have 2FA at a minimum, and if they want to future-proof their systems, they must adopt MFA. Ultimately, a company’s end goal should be to eliminate passwords altogether. The best passwordless MFA systems are user-centric and unify a variety of authentication solutions under one banner, allowing companies to give their employees secure access without needing to use multiple authentication platforms. ‘identification. Passwordless MFA should be the end goal of any business, perfectly combining security and convenience.
At Axiad, we provide a SaaS authentication platform and product line for all your authentication needs, giving your users a seamless experience and your organization a stronger security. Request a demo today to learn more about how Axiad can deliver passwordless orchestration across your organization.
*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Blog-Axiade Written by The Axia team. Read the original post at: https://www.axiad.com/blog/2fa-vs-mfa-whats-the-difference/