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Multi Factor Authentication explained: 2 minute guide for beginners

Multi Factor Authentication explained: 2 minute guide for beginners

“We detected an unusual login attempt on your account…”

How multi-factor authentication reduces the risk of your private information being stolen by cyber criminals.

From phishing to cracking, there are plenty of methods cyber criminals can use to steal data, such as your passwords. Once a cyber criminal has this information, they can use it to access more private data and carry out further attacks.

By using multi-factor authentication, you are far less likely to become a victim of these types of cyber attacks.

But what is multi-factor authentication? And how does it prevent someone from gaining access to your private information? Read our useful guide on multi-factor authentication, so you will be safe when a cyber criminal comes knocking.

What is multi-factor authentication?

When you sign into an online account, you are normally required to enter your email (or username) and password to gain access.

Multi factor authentication (MFA) takes this process one step further by asking for one or more extra pieces of login information such as a PIN, authentication code or answer to a secret question.

This is why multi-factor authentication can also be referred to as two-step verification or 2-factor authentication (2FA).

Why should we use multi-factor authentication?

Creating an extra step of verification greatly reduces the risk of password and data theft. Without this extra step, cyber criminals may be able to guess your password, access your account, and steal your private data!

Some ways in which your login information can be stolen include:

Even after using one of these methods to try and steal your information, an account protected with multi-factor authentication is less likely to be compromised.

However, even if someone has unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to your account, it is still a good idea to change your password.

What are some examples of multi-factor authentication?

There are many types of multi-factor authentication methods out there. Most methods are based around these 3 factors:

  • Knowledge - Things you know, such as password or PIN.
  • Possession - Things you have, such as a phone or email address.
  • Inherence - Things you are, such as face recognition or fingerprint scans.

One of the most popular and safest methods of multi-factor authentication are one-time passwords (OTP). This method will send you a 4–8-digit code to your phone, email or some other account. These codes are also often time sensitive, so if you don’t use them within a certain amount of time, they become invalid.

We hope we’ve convinced you of the importance of multi-factor authentication. If you’d like to learn more about the techniques cyber attackers use to access your private information, try them out for yourself in CyberStart Game!

All of these programmes are entirely free, and feature CyberStart!

CyberStart America

What is it?

A fun programme developed to help you discover your talent, advance your skills and win scholarships in cyber security.

Who's it for?

13-18 year old high school students in the US only.

Awesome! How can I find out more?
www.cyberstartamerica.org

Cyber FastTrack

What is it?

The fastest and most cost-effective route to a career in cyber security via free training and exclusive scholarship opportunities.

Who's it for?

College students in the US only.

Great! How can I find out more?
www.cyber-fasttrack.org