FAQ: Common Business IT Questions Answered

What is multi factor authentication vs. 2fa (2 factor authentication)?

Both multi factor authentication (MFA) and two factor authentication (2FA) validate that you are who you say you are. In fact, all 2FA is MFA. But not all MFA is 2FA.

The difference between multi factor authentication and 2fa is the number of forms of authentication you will require to prove you are a legitimate user to that site. Two is the minimum while more than three tends to get in the way of productivity. As its name suggests, 2FA requires two forms of authentication while MFA covers anything that requires two or more.

Remember your last log in? You were asked to provide a username and password. Those are both one factor of authentication. Taking this a step further, 2FA asks for one more factor, such as answers to previously asked security questions. These all fall into the “something you know” category.

In addition to “something you know” most MFAs also require “something you have” or “something you are. ” “Something you have” is usually your cell phone. Your login triggers a text or push notification to your phone. You enter that code to access the system. There are more robust methods, such as using an authenticator app or token device. Any of these will provide an additional layer of security over simply providing information. “Something you are” is usually a fingerprint or face scan, but any form of biometrics fits in this category.

So don’t get caught up in the terminology multi factor authentication vs 2fa. The important thing is that you implement more robust authentication methods to protect your business.

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