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What Is MFA and Why Do You Need It?

In some circles, the acronym “MFA” might read as Master of Fine Arts, but for those privy to the world of cyber security, it means something much more immediately important: multi-factor authentication.

The simple and troubling fact is that usernames and passwords are incredibly vulnerable to security breaches. This is compounded by the fact that the majority of people use 5 or fewer passwords for all of their login credentials, and those passwords often aren’t all that complex.

This is critical to understand because weak or stolen credentials are a contributing factor in 95% of web app attacks. What this all boils down to is that a basic username and password simply aren’t enough to keep your private accounts secure, and that’s where multi-factor authentication comes in.

The Simple and Secure Solution

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a popular solution to perceived risk because it requires very little extra effort on your part, but makes it significantly more difficult to breach your accounts.

Essentially, MFA works by requesting extra information to verify your identity beyond just a username and password. This creates layers to the login process which increases security significantly, meaning it’s much more likely the person logging into an account is who they say they are when MFA is used.

Think of it this way: a hacker may be able to access your username and password, but it’s much less likely that they’ll also be able to enter a special code associated with the account, or press a button on a linked device. Those few extra seconds on your part will save you years of headaches in the long run; in fact, MFA breaches are so rare that there’s really no data on them.

A Concept You’re Already Using

The idea of adopting MFA might sound cumbersome, but the reality is that you’ve probably been using some form of multi-factor authentication for years already. For example, when you go to an ATM you have to swipe your card as well as enter your PIN to withdraw money—that’s MFA.

Some more modern versions of multi-factor authentication can include a special code sent to your smartphone or email, facial and fingerprint recognition, or a special security word. In all likelihood, even these more recent versions of MFA are familiar to you as they’ve been widely adopted by many tech giants.

The reality is that MFA is incredibly simple when you have the right security team backing you up, but it can increase your safety astronomically. There’s no need to lie awake at night worrying about a security breach when preventing one can be as simple as entering a code or looking into a camera.

We’ve assisted a wide array of customers with implementing their own MFA, and we’re ready to help you with it, too. Reach out to us!