Strong authentication vs multi factor authentication

Strong authentication vs multi factor authentication

What is authentication?

When it comes to authentication, not all methods are equal. In particular, you’ve probably heard of strong authentication and multifactor authentication.

But what is authentication? It is the process of verifying a person’s identity so that access can be granted to an online resource, such as a network, cloud storage, an app, or a website.

Authentication methods verify who the user is and what privileges they have, making sure only authorized ones can access a given system. In other words, these methods are key to the security of any online resource. Nowadays, they are common in almost any industry that involves the access of sensitive information or resources. This includes bank and financial services, healthcare, government, but also retail. They are used for logging in, authorizing payments, accessing files and documents, new digital onboarding, and more.

Multi-factor authentication and strong authentication

To understand the difference between strong and multi-factor authentication, let’s take a closer look at each one of them.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a type of authentication that requires more than one factor for authentication. It involves two or more independent methods, such as a combination of passwords, biometrics such as fingerprints, and physical tokens like key fobs, to verify the user’s identity. The main advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it provides an additional layer of security by requiring multiple factors before access can be granted instead of relying on just one. This makes it much more difficult for unauthorized personnel to access online resources.

Strong customer authentication (SCA) is a type of multi-factor authentication that requires at least two out of three types of credentials for access:

  • something the user know (e.g. a password or PIN),
  • something the user have (e.g. a physical token or key fob),
  • something the user is (biometric such as fingerprints).

The advantage of strong authentication is that even if a cybercriminal were to come into possession of the PIN or token, they would not be able to gain access to the resources because of the biometric parameter, which is definitely difficult to steal or forge.

Which authentication method should you choose?

When deciding which authentication method to use for your company, it’s important to consider:

the type of resources or services you’re protecting as well as the level of security needed. If you are looking for stronger protection, such as when onboarding new customers or accessing sensitive financial data, then strong customer authentication might be your best option. On the other hand, if you just want to add an additional layer of security without making the user experience too cumbersome, then multi-factor authentication is a better choice;

your customer base. For example, you should keep in mind that MFA can add additional time to a user’s experience when logging in or making payments, so it is important to make sure that it does not impede the user experience;

– the level of security of each authentication method, and how it fits into your overall authentication strategy.

The cyber risks of not having an authentication system

When unauthorized personnel can easily access sensitive data and resources, you expose yourself and your company to data theft or fraud. Also, without any form of authentication in place, cyber attackers could launch phishing campaigns against your company’s users in order to gain access to their accounts and compromise the entire system. Finally, without an authentication system in place, it can be difficult to detect and investigate incidents of unauthorized access or data breaches because there is no way to tell who accessed the system and when.

How to set up a multi-factor authentication system

Authentication is therefore a key element of cybersecurity strategies. But how do you set up an authentication system?

  • Multi-factor authentication system
    Setting up a multi-factor authentication system is not complicated but there are some steps you need to take in order to make sure that it’s effective:

    • 1. Choose an authentication method – Decide which credentials you want to use such as passwords, biometrics, tokens or a combination of any of them.
    • 2. Set up the necessary hardware and software – Make sure that the devices and software required for the authentication process are compatible with your system.
    • 3. Securely store the authentication data – Create a separate database to securely store all authentication credentials.
    • 4. Train the users – Make sure that all users know how to use the authentication system and what methods they should follow in order to access their accounts.
  • Strong authentication system
    The process for setting up a strong authentication system is not much different from setting up a multi-factor authentication system. The main difference is that in addition to the steps mentioned above, you should also add an additional layer of security such as biometric data. This extra layer of security will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to data and resources. Some examples of biometric data are fingerprint, facial recognition, iris scan, and voice recognition.

You can set up your system by yourself – many applications and websites now offer multi-factor authentication by default, so all you have to do is enable the feature in the security settings. Alternatively, you can also rely on a third party provider.

Regardless of the method, you should monitor and test the system regularly to ensure that it is working properly and to make sure that it can withstand potential cyber threats.
It is also important to have processes in place for handling authentication failures and providing an easy way for customers to reset their authentication credentials if needed. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your authentication system is secure and provides a good customer experience.

In conclusion, both strong customer authentication and multi-factor authentication can be effective tools for protecting a company’s assets but also customers and their data. This is important not only from the perspective of cyber security but also to help businesses build trust with customers and ensure a better online experience. This will result in a better reputation which, in turn, will promote the success of companies.

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