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Multi-Factor Authentication vs. Two-Factor Authentication vs. Just a Password 

IT Security, IT Trends

Inteck IT Password v 2FA v MFA

At this point, all of us are dependent on the internet and our online presence. Throughout our day, we transact over the internet with our private data attached. We make these transactions through accounts that have our private details saved within them. Interchange of data has developed in such a way that we need to have stronger passwords, stronger than the locks on our door! The passwords can be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, known as a password. Passwords need to be reinforced against hackers, and other people, so keep out online identity and our private details safe. In this article, we will discuss the differences and the impact of multi-factor and two-factor authentication over a password.

All about passwords

A password is a combination of characters and special characters. It is used during the verification of the identity of a person while gaining access to accounts and other areas with sensitive information. Password is the most primitive and widely used method of protecting an account from the invasion of a third party. A password in itself is not full proof and safe way to protect an account or information. The strength or complexity of the password determines its effectiveness.

Some of the characteristics that make up a strong password are:

  1. Not using personal details – more often than not, people use details such as their birth date, their spouse’s birth date, and their mother’s name as their password. It should be avoided as these are the most common details that are known to a lot of people and are easily accessible.
  2. High complexity – more the complexity of a password, harder it is to crack. A highly complex password consists of special characters, unique words, or even phrases.
  3. Secrecy – keeping all things aside, the integrity of a password remains in how well you can keep it a secret. More the number of people who know your password, the higher the chances that it will get leaked.

These statements show that the password can, at times, become a weak point in the security layer. There are different authentication layers imposed upon the password to overcome this. These authentication layers use different methods to identify further the person trying to log in. The three most widely used authentication layers are two-factor and multi-factor authentication.

All about two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication or 2FA is an extra layer of security that is added to the password to cross-check the identity and presence of the actual owners of profiles. There are different forms of two-factor authentication that exists. The two most common and widely used types are biometric verification, SMS/OTP verification, and access trial notifications.

  1. Biometric verification: biometric verification uses fingerprint, iris, or facial scanners to determine the identity of the person to log in. The use of this is that even if a person knows the password, he cannot log into the account because the biometric verification will fail.
  2. SMS/OTP verification: in this method, after entering the password, a one-time password (OTP) will be sent to the account holder’s phone number. Only on entering the OTP, one can log into their account. It ensures that no one can get access to the account without the knowledge of the account holder.
  3. Access notifications: This method uses the phone to authenticate the identity of whoever is trying to log it. The process through which it does is that whenever the password is entered, a push notification is sent on the account holder’s phone. Only when the account holder taps on it and gives access, can the account be logged into. This way, no other person can log into the account without the holder knowing and providing access.

Two-factor authentications thus add another layer of identity verification method. It ensures that even if a third party knows the password, the user cannot gain access to the account without undergoing the second authentication process. Even then, at times, the information that is held is too sensitive and will cause serious damage if it gets leaked. In those cases, multi-factor authentication is used.

All about Multi-factor authentication 

Multi-factor authentication is an authentication process in which different authentication layers are stacked upon one another to make a single authentication process. The most widely used multi-factor verification or MFA is a password, one-time password (OTP) and biometric verification

In this process, first, the user needs to enter the password associated with the account, after the password has been verified, the second step is entering the OTP. After the verification of the password, and it is automatically sent to the account holder’s phone number. The OTP has to be entered within a short time frame. Once the OTP is verified, the last step is the biometric verification. Once the OTP is verified, the associated method of biometric verification is initiated. The user needs to pass the biometric authentication to gain access to the account finally.


Through the above discussion, it is clear that in the battle between Multi-Factor Authentication vs. Two-Factor Authentication vs. Just a Password, multi-factor authentication is the safest method of authentication.

First and foremost, a secure password is required, and said password must be a highly kept secret. It should be impossible for anyone to get a hold of it or guess it. The most widely used method of cracking a password is using the brute force method or keystroke mapping. Using these methods, even if the password is hacked, it would be quite tricky to get hold of the OTP. Even if somehow the OTP gets known, the last barrier of security cannot be penetrated. The account holder themselves can only do the biometric verification. Therefore, demonstrating why multi-factor authentication is the safest method of authentication

Two-factor verification has become the standard for checking in any login system. The multi-factor verification system is slowly taking its place. The reason being, as the security systems are getting stronger, so is the breaching methods. If you would like assistance in securing your accounts with various authentication methods, feel free to call Inteck IT at 1300 39 65 65 or email us at support@inteckit.com.au. We can recommend the best authentication method for your business’s accounts and assist you in implementing said method.

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