Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Last Updated: November 2, 2017

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Definition - What does Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) mean?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security mechanism in which individuals are authenticated through more than one required security and validation procedure. MFA is built from a combination of physical, logical and biometric validation techniques used to secure a facility, product or service.

Techopedia explains Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA is implemented in an environment where an individual's authentication and validation is the highest priority. Examples include a nuclear power plant or a bank’s data warehouse.

To gain access to a secured location or system, MFA typically requires three different security mechanism layers and formats, as follows:

  • Physical security: Validates and authenticates a user based on an employee card or other type of physical token
  • Logical/knowledge base security: Validates and authenticates a user based on a required password or personal identification number (PIN), which is memorized by the user
  • Biometric security: Validates and authenticates based on a user's fingerprints, retinal scan and/or voice

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