Shift to Adaptive Authentication

You all must have heard the terms two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication used for improving security and protecting web login and accounts from malicious attack and data breaches. However, organizations are seeking something better to ensure higher user-satisfaction rate along with the stronger security for their web assets. Adaptive authentication is an advanced and excellent methodology for authenticating users based on machine-learning and data analytics to deliver greater user-experience in addition to reliable security.

What is Adaptive Authentication?

As briefed above, adaptive authentication is a machine learning based security solution which is driven by certain parameters to benefit users with easy, engaging simplified and yet stronger security authentication.

Adaptive authentication is not a separate solution or application rather it’s an integrated part of 2FA or any other Multi-factor authentication solution. During adaptive authentication, different parameters and user-attributes are being taken into consideration to identify the risk and the credibility of the login. Positive results during adaptive authentication grants, direct access to users without letting them undergo through token based second-factor authentication. However, if the login found to be suspicious based on multiple risk-identifying factors, then that login is further subjected to second-factor authentication where the user needs to present hardware or software token.

What are the parameters considered during adaptive authentication?

Below given, are some of the most used parameters and user-attributes to authenticate the veracity of user’s login. Based on the following factors, a user may be granted direct access or may be subjected to 2nd-factor authentication check.

  • User-Behaviour
  • Login Time
  • Device and other software and hardware resources used for access.
  • IP address of login.
  • Geographical location of user’s login

The above-mentioned attributes with the aid of machine learning tools and algorithms are being used to evaluate and assess the credibility of the login. Some more and unique parameters and attributes could also be added to the list to ensure a stronger authentication check

Why Adaptive authentication is getting popular?

The primary and maybe the single-most reason behind adaptive authentication hype is the ease of authentication that user is finding pretty useful and engaging. Although second-factor authentication proven to deliver stronger security, at the same time, users were finding authentication procedure very tiresome and frustrating as they need to authenticate themselves repeatedly in the second-factor authentication check, each time they want to login throughout the day.

Adaptive authentication is a very useful mechanism that lets genuine and authorized user to gain direct access without getting introduced to 2nd-factor authentication window, unless and until he/she tries to log in from some unusual location, IP address, using unconventional software or hardware devices or in odd timings.

Thus, Adaptive authentication not only ensures productive machine learning based security check, but also increases and maintain user-interest, and thereby delivers higher satisfaction rate.

At present, very few of the network security solution providers are delivering adaptive authentication features with their 2FA or MFA solution like REVE Secure. To ensure high-level of security, but not at the cost of their user’s interest and experience, organizations need & must implement machine learning based adaptive authentication.

Multi-Factor Authentication Vs Two-Factor Authentication

The present information technology era has been perceiving rising and severe cyber-attacks, especially security and data breaches. Weak and stolen credentials and passwords may be seen as one of the prime reasons behind most of the intrusion and data breaches. Thus, it generated the need for either replacing or making the passwords based authentication more stronger and reliable. In the world of web and computer security, we all must have heard the terms Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA) that are required to improve existing password-based security. However, most of the users find themselves confused over the differences between 2FA and MFA like what’s the difference between them, which one to choose and many similar types of queries.

What is Two-Factor Authentication or 2FA?

As the name suggests, two-Factor authentication defines the mechanism for verifying and validating the user’s login credibility via two different authentication layers. The first layer of authentication check involves user’s credential check i.e. username and password. On successfully passing the password-based authentication, the user is directed to the second layer of authentication check, where he/she needs to enter the security hardware or software tokens to get themselves authenticated. and finally, the authorized user gets the access.

2FA Working

Two-Factor authentication check and validates the login based on following attributes:

Something that a user knows: This may include registered credentials like username and password or pin. A user knowing correct or incorrect password may or may not get him/herself authenticated in the first security check.

Something that a user has: This generally, refers to security codes or OTPs as hardware or software tokens, which are received or generated on their mobile or any other registered hardware devices. During this authentication check, a user needs to provide the security token or code to verify his/her credibility in the final authentication check and accordingly gets access.

Learn some tips about 2FA in our blog- Tips for Using Two Factor Authentication Method.

What is Multi-Factor Authentication or MFA?

You may interpret the meaning of MFA through its name itself “Multi-factor authentication” i.e. authentication check involving multiple factors. In layman’s language, multi-factor authentication could be seen as the process of authenticating the user’s login veracity through multiple authentication layers, where each layer consists of different and unique parameters to verify and validate the user authenticity.

MFA working

Basically, in MFA, a user is made to go through a defined sequence of authentication checks, starting from initial authentication check based on the password to more stringent authentications. These multiple and stringent authentication checks comprise of different factors to verify and validate the user authorization.

  • Something user knows– password
  • Something user have– security tokens
  • Something user is– biometric scan
  • Location of the user– geographical location or coordinates
  • …….
  • …….
  • and so on

difference between mfa and 2fa

What’s the difference between MFA and 2FA?

Nothing. The difference between MFA and 2FA is very minute in terms of authentication layers and factors used, which may be considered negligible. Basically, 2FA is a subset of MFA but vice-versa is not true. Authentication checks involving more than one authentication layers/parameters falls under the category of MFA. As such, 2FA, 3FA, 4FA,……are nothing but the sub-categories of MFA.

In short, every 2FA is a Multi-factor authentication, but all multi-factor authentications are not necessarily 2FA.

In the light of the above discussion, it may be stated that the selection between 2FA and MFA (2FA and above) should be based on the scope, boundary, data sensitivity, need of securing small, medium or large-sized infrastructure and many similar factors. It should be noted that more the authentication checks we have, better will be the security, but at the same time the user should not feel tiresome/difficult in getting him/herself authenticated.

2FA solutions like REVE Secure guarantees stronger and uncompromising security with their powerful two-factor authentication. Visit REVE Secure, to learn more.