MFA vs. 2FA: Everything You Need to Know

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As your business navigates further into the digital age, it’s crucial to understand the tools that protect your sensitive information. A good place to start is with two cybersecurity mechanisms known as Multi-factor Authentication and Two-factor Authentication, aka MFA and 2FA.

You might be asking yourself, “okay, but what does MFA stand for?” or “what does MFA mean?” You’re not alone. Let’s shed some light on these critical concepts that serve as our digital gatekeepers.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why MFA is important, the difference between MFA vs. 2FA, and why strong authentication is required to safeguard your digital assets in today’s business environment.


What Does MFA Stand For?

First things first: what does MFA stand for? The MFA acronym is used to refer to the security practice of multi-factor authentication policy.

This is a security system that requires more than one single factor authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.

MFA solutions can involve forms of authentication you know (like a username and password, one-time password, push notification, or PIN), something you have (like a hardware token or mobile device), or something you are (like a fingerprint, facial recognition, or other form of biometric data) to be granted access.

The central idea behind the MFA acronym is to create a layered defense, so if one factor is compromised, the attacker still has at least one more barrier to breach before successfully breaking into the target.

Only 13% of employees at SMBs use MFA, compared to 87% of employees at companies with 10,000 or more employees. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between 2FA vs. MFA.

2FA vs MFA

Image Credit: Zippia


2FA vs. MFA: How Do They Differ?

What does MFA mean in comparison to 2FA? The key difference between 2FA vs. MFA lies in the number and types of factors used.

Essentially, 2FA is a subset of MFA. It involves exactly two layers of security – it could be a password coupled with a text message code, for example. All 2FA is a subset of MFA, akin to how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is the broader term, which refers to the use of two or more independent means of evidence, such as a password, biometric data like a fingerprint, or a physical token, to authenticate a user.

Conversely, Two-factor Authentication (2FA) is a specific type of MFA and uses exactly two means of evidence for user authentication. The advantage of these methods is in their layered approach to security.

Even if one factor is compromised, the other layers of authentication continue to protect the user’s data. In this way, MFA and 2FA add depth to your cybersecurity strategy, ensuring a resilient line of defense for your valuable information.

60% of SMBs Go Out of Business in One Instance of Cyber-Attack

Talk to us today about why MFA is Important for your business


What Are the 2FA and MFA Benefits?

Both Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) and Two-factor Authentication (2FA) are cornerstones of cybersecurity for a reason. They add significant layers of protection to our digital identities, fortifying them against unauthorized access and weak passwords.

Among the distinct 2FA and MFA benefits are:

  • Improved Security: 2FA and MFA require additional security layers. Even if an attacker gains access to one security factor, such as your password, they still have to overcome other layers to successfully breach your account.
  • Deterrent Effect: The complexity of having to bypass multiple security factors can deter potential attackers, making them more likely to move on to an easier target.
  • Decreased Risk of Identity Theft: With multiple factors needed for verification, the chances of identity theft decrease significantly.
  • Increased Data Protection: Particularly relevant for businesses, these authentication methods provide an extra safeguard for sensitive information and help protect against data breaches.
  • Enhanced User Experience: For businesses, implementing MFA and 2FA demonstrates a commitment to protecting user data, thus improving user trust.
  • Regulatory Compliance: In some industries, using MFA and 2FA can help businesses meet regulatory requirements for data and privacy protection.


Take the First Steps to Safeguarding Your Business Today

While 2FA vs. MFA are different in certain aspects, one thing remains the same: strong authentication is required to safeguard your business assets in today’s digital environment.

And with a trusted IT security partner like on your side, you’ll stand ready to repel any invasion.

Need help deciding which access management and multi factor authentication policy makes the most sense for your business? Consult with our team of cybersecurity experts today!

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