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Digital security is crucial to business management. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has an increasing presence in digital security, as companies seek better security processes and policies.

MFA refers to a layered cybersecurity strategy. It allows for stricter validation of a user’s identity through multiple verification processes. As a result, MFA makes it difficult for cybercriminals to access accounts using stolen credentials.

MFA employs three factors: knowledge, inherence, and possession. Knowledge factors use information known to a person, such as passwords. This aspect of MFA is the weakest, and we’re in the early days of its being superseded by stronger MFA factors.

Inherence factors zero in on biometrics like fingerprints or facial scans. Lastly, the possession factor utilizes the devices and tokens that an individual owns. This factor is the subject of this post.

The Possession Factor: Something You Own

Possession authentication covers an array of credentials that a user currently has. These unique pieces of information, typically contained in a hardware device, are ideally unknown to anyone other than its owner. Moreover, this authentication factor limits access interference that professional hackers might carry out.

1. Software Tokens

Also called a soft token, a software token is requested from a server or administrator. It is digitally delivered to a mobile device or computer, where it ends up in the system’s virtual memory. This authentication factor is typically used alongside knowledge factors such as passwords.

2. OTPs

OTP stands for one-time-password, which is a temporary verification code usually transmitted via SMS or email. OTPs remain active within a short period. The user will have to request another OTP if they are unable to use it within the set time frame.

3. Soft Token Software Development Kits (SDKs)

Typically embedded in mobile apps, SDKs use cryptographic systems for device authentication. This verification process proves convenient since it eliminates the need to switch between platforms. A user requiring access to an account stays on the same device where the app is saved.

4. Short Message Service (SMS)

Similar to OTPs, your registered mobile number receives a password for identity verification purposes. There is no need to download an app or use a hardware device to get through the authentication process.

5. Email

A verified email account receives a unique link or code. That allows a layer of authentication that minimizes the risk of identity fraud.

6. Smart Cards

These are most reminiscent of physical keys. An authorized person is issued a tangible card which they can use for authenticating their identity. The most obvious risk here is the physical card getting lost. In such a case, the incident must be reported ASAP so that the card is deactivated immediately.

7. Security Keys

Also called security tokens, security keys are dependent upon a primary device such as a computer. A security key may be inserted into a USB port, among other mechanisms, for identity verification.

Reliable and Seamless Authentication

A data breach is detrimental to a business in multiple ways. The corresponding financial cost and the loss of credibility can easily discourage people from doing business with your company. To minimize such risks, it is in your best interest to ramp up cybersecurity measures with MFA.

Exploring possession-based authentication, such as token-based authentication and OTPs, will help guarantee the security of your company’s resources. Learn more about our authentication Solutions.


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