What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication? What Are Some Examples? 

More and more, when you sign up for and then log into an account on a website, you come across multi-factor authentication. Although it’s a tad inconvenient for you, the user of a service, multi-factor authentication is for your online safety and security. How exactly does it work?

Multi-factor authentication requires the user to go through at least two stages of verification to prove they’re the one trying to log in, but it’s often three or four stages. The extra factors can reduce instances of online fraud. Examples include facial recognition, a fingerprint, or a multi-digit code. 

This guide will explain multi-factor authentication in far more detail, including its benefits for Dallas companies. We’ll also provide examples of multi-factor authentication that you can implement. 

Let’s get started.

Multi-Factor Authentication 101 

It used to be that for any website, software, or service you used,to log in, all you had to do was input your username and your password. If your computer so happened to remember your password for you, then logging in took seconds.

From a security standpoint though, this login method is not safe. If your username is your email address, which is already available on the Internet, all someone would have to do is guess your password. Then they’re in your account. 

Maybe that’s not such a big deal if it’s your Netflix account we’re talking about here, but what about your bank account? A nefarious character could drain your funds. Even on social media, they can post incriminating yet fake content that can drive rifts between your friends and family and even cause you to lose your job.

Data breaches are only on the rise. According to Statista, in 2017, up to 1,632 data breaches occurred in the United States. That means 197.61 million records were exposed that year. Ten years prior in 2007, only 446 data breaches occurred, with 127.7 million records exposed.

That’s where multi-factor authentication comes in. While a simple username and password combo is single-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication takes it a step above even two-factor authentication.

To log in, you need to prove several factors. There are usually three of them: inherence, possession, and knowledge. Let’s talk further about these factors now.


Inherence refers to something you are. For instance, if your smartphone knows your face and someone else tries to break into your phone, they can’t since their face is not yours. Your voice and your fingerprints are also instances of inherence.  


Possession in multi-factor authentication is something you have. If you’ve ever had a company send you a multi-digit smartphone code to log in, this is possession in action. Only you have your phone. Even if someone else had your login information, since you’re in possession of your smartphone, only you could input the code to log in. 


The last factor of multi-factor authentication is knowledge, or something you know. For instance, a one-time password would use your knowledge. You’d receive the one-time password in an email, then you’d log in with it. 

For the companies and services that want to be ultra-secure, they might introduce a fourth factor in multi-factor authentication. After all, with a name like multi-factor authentication, there’s no limit on the factors that could be required to log in.

What is the fourth factor? It’s location. If you were hard-wired into a network, such as your work network, you’d use a pin code to log in that would only work when you want to get into that network. 

Examples of Multi-Factor Authentication

Although we touched on some of them in the section above, we only scratched the surface as far as multi-factor authentication examples go. Here is a full list for your perusal.

Inherent Multi-Factor Authentication Examples• Keystroke dynamics: Yes, some companies are getting smart enough to employ behavior biometrics in the vein of keystroke dynamics. These dynamics infer how long you press on and then release a key each time you type. 

• Iris recognition: Your eyes hold a lot of information, so iris scans are a smart means of multi-factor authentication. Even if someone else has the same eye color as you, your irises are unique to you and only you. At a distance, iris recognition can still pick up on your eyes. 

• Facial recognition: After taking a digital image of your face, technology can determine a match of your face based on what’s in the database. If your phone uses facial recognition, the primary way to unlock the phone would be by positively identifying your face. 

• Voice recognition: Your voice is the only one in the world like it, which is why speech recognition is a common factor in multi-factor authentication.

 • Fingerprint recognition: You already see fingerprint recognition as a multi-factor authentication factor in many smartphones. You must press your thumb onto the home button to be able to log in. 

Possession Multi-Factor Authentication Examples

• Security tokens: In the realm of possession as multi-factor authentication, security tokens are a popular example. A security token can replace a password (although some tokens store passwords) but is only granted to specific individuals. To make your security token more unique, it might contain biometric data like fingerprint or facial recognition data.

 • One-time passwords: We touched on one-time passwords or OTPs earlier, and they’re a popular possession multi-factor authentication factor. You’d receive an OTP through email or text. Some smartphone apps can even generate their own OTPs. 

Knowledge Multi-Factor Authentication Examples

• Password: In a perfect world, you’re the only one who’d have knowledge of your password, which is why it can be categorized as a knowledge factor in multi-factor authentication. It’s important to note that your password is not the only means of authentication here.

 • OTPs: Yes, OTPs count as both possession and knowledge factors in multi-factor authentication. Their usage does not vary either way.

 • Personal security questions: When you’re asked to answer a personal security question when registering an account for a service, you may someday be called upon to answer that question. The answer must be easy for you to remember yet only something that you would know, such as the street name of your first home or your second grade English teacher’s name. 

Do You Need Multi-Factor Authentication?

Is multi-factor authentication something your Dallas business requires, or can you put it off until later or even forego it entirely? Certainly not. Here are some reasons to integrate multi-factor authentication into your business plan going forward.

Reduces Stolen Password Risk

The problem with an easily guessable password is not only that a hacker or cybercriminal can access your account, but who knows how many other accounts as well? According to a 2020 article from tech resource Info Security, many users–up to 65 percent–reuse one password across multiple accounts.

Even if it wasn’t a bank account that a hacker cracked, but an Amazon account, if your bank password is the same as your Amazon password, you’re sunk. The hacker can now access your Amazon purchase records and your bank account information.

With multi-factor authentication, since a user’s password is not the sole factor they rely on to log in, their password is less likely to be stolen. This doesn’t stop them from using the same password across accounts, but it does make that habit far less detrimental.

Improves Your Trustworthiness

A multi-layered login approach tells your customers that your company is willing to go above and beyond to ensure their security needs are met.

It doesn’t take a breach for your company to begin prioritizing user security. Just hearing of the harrowing details of breaches can inspire you to fortify your company data. Multi-factor authentication will help you do just that. 

More Secure Than Two-Factor Authentication 

Although two-factor authentication is better than single-factor authentication, it too is not super-secure. The more factors you add to the process of authenticating users, the safer the login process is.

Two-factor authentication, by its name alone, is limited to just those two security factors. Multi-factor authentication, as we talked about earlier, can mean three factors as it usually does, but it can refer to more.

Four-factor authentication with a location factor is the new future, and five and six layers could follow. 


Multi-factor authentication is a securer way of logging into the accounts that consumers use every day. The triple authentication factors include knowledge, inherence, and possession, with a location factor being commonly recognized as well.

Your IT services in Dallas, TX can be perceived as more trustworthy if you take the time to prioritize multi-factor authentication!

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