What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

MFA stands for Multi-Factor Authentication. It is a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction. MFA combines two or more independent credentials: what the user knows (password), what the user has (security token), and what the user is (biometric verification).

The goal of MFA is to create a layered defense and make it more difficult for an unauthorized person to access a target such as a physical location, computing device, network, or database. If one factor is compromised or broken, an attacker still has at least one more barrier to breach before successfully breaking into the target.

Common examples of MFA include:

  • Something you know: a password or PIN.
  • Something you have: a smartphone with an authentication app, a security token, or a smart card.
  • Something you are: biometrics, such as fingerprints, retina scans, or voice recognition.

MFA is widely used in various applications, especially those requiring high security, like financial, governmental, and healthcare systems. It is an effective way to provide enhanced security by adding multiple layers of protection.