Common Multifactor Authentication Technologies

Enterprise Security Magazine | Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Organizations and customers benefit from multifactor authentication since it significantly improves security, and some multifactor authentication technologies even make it convenient for users to access a device.

Fremont, CA:By solving the major flaws of username-and-password authentication, multifactor authentication benefits both enterprises and their users. Without multifactor authentication, an attacker could buy an individual's username and password, conduct some research on where he works, and assume he used the same password everywhere. If that assumption is correct, it's game over for him because they now have access to everything he does at work. Similarly, they may attempt to log in to multiple financial sites using the same username/password combination; if they succeed, that person's account will be under their control. However, with multifactor authentication, knowing someone's password is useless. The intruders are missing one or more of the other factors required by the system to establish they are the verified individual.

Some of the commonly used multifactor authentication technologies are:


The "something you have" element of the MFA equation in biometric authentication involves a person's unique physical characteristics (also referred to as "something you are"). In the past, this was chiefly done with fingerprints, thanks to technology like Apple's TouchID. With alternatives like Apple's FaceID and Microsoft's Windows Hello, facial feature identification has recently matured. It's crucial to distinguish between biometrics as a convenience and biometrics as a secondary authentication element. Microsoft, for example, distinguishes between Windows Hello as a handy way to access a device and Windows Hello as a component of an MFA approach.


A smart card is a substantial device that has a cryptographically signed digital certificate that is read by the system person is authenticating to when they insert it or, in some situations, merely hold it close to the reader. Yubikeys, for example, are modern smart card devices.

One time password (OTP)

When someone goes to a website (such as a bank website) and enters their login and password, the system sends them a code that they must enter within a certain amount of time in order to gain access. They must produce a fresh one each time they authenticate. There are various ways of providing an OTP, such as through texts, smartphone apps, and even hardware tokens.