Authentication using two or more authentication factors. In other words, two or more pieces of evidence – your credentials – are required when logging into an account.
These credentials (or factors) fall into three categories:
Something you know, like a password or PIN
Something you have, like a token or an authenticator app on your mobile phone
Something you are, as represented by a fingerprint or face scan
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a form of multi-factor authentication. These terms are often used synonymously.
To be considered MFA, each authentication factor must be from a different category.
Why use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is proven to help you, your office network and the enterprise stay safer.
Multi-factor authentication is just as helpful in your non-work life. Service providers, includes banking institutions and the Canada Revenue Agency, encourage you to set up MFA.
While it is not possible to stop all cybercrime, MFA does significantly reduce your chances of being a victim. Your information is safer because hackers would need all your authentication factors in order to log in as you. As some services offer a reset ability to regain access even to MFA-protected accounts, continue to exercise caution regarding unusual activity, unexpected changes to your account or the associated credentials, or access attempts.