Guide to multi-factor authentication (MFA): secure your digital business
An introduction to authentication
In today's increasingly digital world, consumers are using more web and mobile apps than ever to access the services they need.
These apps require the consumer to register and create accounts with usernames and passwords. These credentials are also then used to complete other actions within the apps like processing transactions, sharing files or making account updates.
Today’s industry standards and regulations require your business to establish more secure authentication mechanisms that prevent fraud and protect user accounts.
Authentication is the process of verifying that a claimed identity is genuine and based on valid credentials.
It’s about making sure a user is who they say they are.
When it comes to authentication, passwords alone aren’t enough to keep your business and customers secure.
Why are passwords alone not enough?
Passwords alone are no longer capable of keeping your business safe.
80% of known data breaches are due to weak, reused or stolen credentials (Verizon)
59% of people mostly or always use the same password (Last Pass)
42% of people keep passwords in an unprotected file (Last Pass)
It’s time to take your security to the next level with multi-factor authentication (MFA).
What is multi-factor authentication?
Multi-factor authentication verifies the consumer's identity in multiple steps using different methods.
Multi-factor authentication protects accounts by collecting two or more of the credentials below:
Something you know (a password or a PIN)
Something you have (a mobile phone or a token)
Something you are (a fingerprint or other biometric data)
Common MFA methods
Multi-factor authentication comes in many different forms.
The best authentication platforms enable you to leverage more than one 2FA mechanism above, so you can establish a comprehensive solution that adapts to your business’ unique customer journey.
Verification must happen across the customer journey
On platforms and apps today you have a lot of time throughout the journey where you need to verify your users — and every moment of interaction is an opportunity for a threat.
These are four of the most common use cases that demand authentication.
The importance of multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Every app, device and login is an entryway to your business, and they need to be better protected. Multi-factor authentication provides another layer of security on top of the login credentials.
99% of breaches can be blocked with multi-factor authentication (Microsoft)
With its added security benefits, MFA is strongly recommended for businesses of all sizes. Selecting the right MFA solution is one of the most affordable, effective ways to increase your overall security and protect your business from cyberattacks.
How to choose the right multi-factor authentication (MFA) setup
There are multiple elements that must be considered when you enable MFA in order to set up the most comprehensive and secure authentication processes.
Global security and compliance
There are multiple security regulations across the globe to ensure data protection and protect users depending on the industry. Your MFA solution should be flexible enough and provide the minimum functionality that allows you to be compliant with those regulations as well as maintaining the security without compromising the user experience.
Conversion rates are measured as the moment a user inserts the code. Having a good authentication process means getting more real users onboarded and engaged faster, which will convert earlier — equalling higher revenue for your business.
Reliable and scalable global deliverability
One challenge that businesses often run into is the successful delivery of PIN codes across multiple countries, due to technology complexities of connecting to mobile operators. The best MFA providers abstract this complexity by providing direct connectivity to carriers globally. Plus, they constantly optimize the routing of your messages to drive high deliverability, which will reduce friction in your user experience and increase conversion rates.
Speed of implementation and available resources
Do you need to get authentication started as soon as possible? Do you have the resources and bandwidth to update and test new deployments every time there’s an update needed? A proven MFA solution can reduce all of the complexities related to implementation — to deploy and get up and running fast with understandable documentation and SDKs in your preferred coding language.
Pricing and cost
Simplify the financial logistics of MFA deployments with a solution that only charges you for a successful conversion. This helps you avoid extra costs and ensures you don’t pay for messages never used.
It’s about your users, allowing them to select the mechanism they want to be authenticated in a fast and secure way. Deploy a MFA solution that allows you to approach and customize your authentication to exactly fit your business needs.
Best practices for multi-factor authentication
Know every entry point into your business
Common entry points are: IT and privileged accounts, remote employees and contractors, cloud apps, databases, networks, single sign-on, password managers and mobile apps.
Establish extensive policies
Set up protocols that allow you to define how you manage verification at different steps of the journey. Policy configurations should be transparent about when multi-step authentications are necessary.
Gain security by design
MFA solutions must encrypt data at the device level to ensure end-to-end security throughout the whole process.
Combine authentication options
The ability to combine authentication options — such as traditional 2FA channels, push notifications and biometrics — establishing MFA.
Implement security without sacrificing usability
For an MFA solution to be a success in your business, it must be customizable to serve a diverse user base. Different users and different use cases warrant higher levels of verification. This flexibility addresses the needs of both IT admins and end users.
Elevate your security practices with MessageBird’s Verify API
Supporting your MFA authentication is easy with Bird's Verify API.
Bird’s multi-factor authentication platform enables MFA through three different channels to implement a user-friendly, customizable and secure authentication process.
It also connects you to enterprise-grade security, compliant worldwide.
Bird is 27001:2013 certified, GDPR and PSD2 compliant. Plus, all data is encrypted at REST and in transit — with direct, encrypted end-to-end SMS connections.
On top of its security, Bird’s SMS platform gives you best-in-class deliverability. Whether you’re sending hundreds or millions of codes, our infrastructure has 250+ direct-to-carrier connections to ensure your SMS is delivered fast and reliably around the world.
Bird’s Email platform — powered by SparkPost — also connects you to industry-leading security. The platform is trusted to optimally deliver 40% of all commercial emails, always in-line with DKIM, SPF and DMARC protocols.
For Voice, Bird’s direct access to over 250 global telcos means your authentication messages are optimized for security and speed.
Use our Numbers API to programmatically buy and use local numbers in 140 countries and easily deploy cost-effective verification where needed.
Bird also ensures a cost-effective MFA solution with a success-based pricing model, which allows you to only pay for successful authentications.
Paired with our dedicated MFA support, Bird’s Verify API means you can continually expect an optimized authentication process.