Password security is one of the biggest holes in many organizations’ cybersecurity defenses. Traditionally, authentication systems have relied on knowledge of a password to differentiate between legitimate and unauthorized users of a system or service. If you know the password, then you’re supposed to have access.
The problem with this is that many people practice very poor password security. Weak and reused passwords are easy to guess and enable credential stuffing attacks after a data breach. According to Verizon’s 2021 DBIR, 61% of data breaches involved the use of compromised credentials.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are designed to solve this problem. Instead of relying solely on a password for user authentication, they require a combination of two or more factors, such as:
Something you know: password, passphrase etc. Something you have: smartphone, authenticator etc. Something you are: biometrics
2FA and MFA differ only in the number of factors that they require. 2FA uses exactly two factors, while MFA can use two or more.
By requiring multiple factors for authentication, 2FA and MFA make it harder to gain unauthorized access to a system because guessing a password is no longer enough. However, depending on the factors used,