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2FA vs MFA: Difference between two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication

2FA vs MFA: MFA as opposed to 2FA. Therefore, two-factor authentication (2FA) requires users to show two types of authentication while MFA requires that users present at minimum two, if not more, types for authentication. This means that every 2FA is MFA however, not every MFA is a 2FA.

Forms of authentication

We, as users, usually come across authentication in one of three types:

  • One-factor authentication is used to authenticate a user only one authentication method suffices, and that is typically the standard password.
  • 2-factor authentication ( 2FA) is also known as two-step verification. 2FA is a method of authentication that requires 2 elements as proof in order to ensure an authentic end-user login.
  • Multi-factor authentication ( MFA)- MFA will prompt users to provide a minimum of two verification methods. The ultimate objective is to increase security by introducing an additional authentication layer.

Three Factors of Authentication

Both 2FA, as well as MFA, require a mix of various authentication factors. What are those factors? In the realm of security it is possible to identify three authentication factors that are interconnected in the cases of MFA and 2FA:

For more information about the factors that determine authentication that is involved in authentication, we’ll look at each one separately and provide an example to give you a better understanding.

KNOWLEDGE: A thing that the user knows

Knowledge authentication, also known as “Something that the user is familiar with” is one of the most commonly used authentication factors that is typically a plain security code as well as a PIN. The most popular factor in single-factor authentication, but is also utilized in 2FA as well as MFA. Since it’s one of the earliest forms of authentication, passwords in today’s cyberspace is an extremely weak security links. For experienced hackers, cracking passwords is as simple as breaking an egg.

POSSESSION: A thing that the user owns

The term “possession authentication” typically is a reference to the use of an HW token or a smart card or, more commonly the smartphone. Let’s suppose that you have to authenticate a purchase online by using the help of an OTP (One-time passcode) that is sent to your phone. By using this method of authentication, you’re showing the possession (the mobile or smartphone number on that you got the OTP). OTPs are a well-known method of authentication to verify online transactions due to their accessibility through mobile tokens. However, because 2FA or MFA have multiple security elements and a lot of friction, the amount the OTP has to endure isn’t the best.

INHERENCE: Things the user is

The inherence authentication method is based on biometric authentication, dependent on the user’s distinctive characteristics. Biometric authentication usually includes fingerprint or facial recognition in addition to location behavior. Since biometrics are extremely difficult to fake and are highly secure, inherence is believed as the safest authentication method of all three. Biometrics are among the top choices in the realm of two-factor as well as multi-factor authentication.

Why does single-factor authentication not suffice?

Single-factor authentication only requires one security factor which is the one with knowledge. Everybody has access to their private and corporate accounts with one type of password. However, why do certain services require us to provide an additional authentication method? Because the people who run these companies are well aware of security threats if that a password is the sole factor between hackers and the company’s data.

Cybercriminals have an array of password-breaking methods, such as keylogging brute force, and phishing scripts with very high success rates. If you are using plain passwords as your primary defense, it’s time to look into 2FA or MFA solutions that are suited to the needs of your business.

There is a lot of discussion about the need to erase passwords altogether. However, it’s only a flimsy idea, it’s actually taking place right in the present. Apple has been pushing passwords into extinction through the introduction of Passkeys. These are digital keys made with Touch and Face ID. In light of the imminent move to passwordless ensure your company is up-to-date and is implementing the 2FA and MFA system that is appropriate for your company’s needs.


On the basis of definitions discussed previously, we can conclude we can say that 2FA is one of the subsets of MFA. This is a result of the following: All 2FA is MFA however, there are exceptions. MFA can be described as 2FA. Why? The primary distinction between 2FA and MFA is a requirement for explicit two authentication factors, whereas MFA requires at minimum two or more authentication elements as shown by.

What is the difference between Two-factor authentication as well as multi-factor?

The primary distinction of the two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) is in the amount of authentication criteria. Two-factor authentication requires only two authentication elements to be provided in the process of authentication. Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide at least two authentication factors.

Is MFA more secure than 2FA?

The most accurate answer is: it all depends. Some may say the answer is simple, but for the reason of providing complete information, we’ll go over this issue. Each MFA that includes 2FA too can only be as secure in the manner that it is used in the specific scenario. Let’s look at it this way when you combine three authentication methods, like the PIN (knowledge), OTP (possession), as well as fingerprint (inherence), you, ‘re better off than using one password. The above-mentioned MFA method is also superior to 2FA which includes, for instance, OTP and Face ID. In some instances, two-factor authentication can beat multi-factor authentication.

Two-Factor Authentication is More Secure Than Multi-Factor Authentication Requesting Three Factors

Whatever the ”missing’ authentication factor, 2FA could be more secure as compared to MFA. In the event that 2FA requires authentication elements like the Push Notification (possession) as well as Fingerprint (inherence) and one of the more secure methods of authentication available, the three-factor method mentioned previously, MFA doesn’t stand any chance. This is proof of the fact that MFA can only be as safe in the methods used to authenticate.

2FA vs MFA

What are the ways that 2FA and MFA IMPACT FRICTION?

Security layers added to the mix result in increased friction, don’t you think? Not necessarily. The increasing use of smartphones allows for security checks that don’t require the involvement of users. If we consider location as an inherent factor and the data is extracted without the intervention of the user. To get the most effective results it is essential to have some friction. Methods like Push Notifications as well as Biometrics require very little effort from the end user’s side and provide the highest security standards.

The balance between security and friction could be summarized in the following way A multi-factor authentication system must be based on the least friction and most secure methods for authentication.

What is 5FA?

5FA, also known as five-factor authentication is an extended version of the model, which includes two additional authentication factors on top of the previously mentioned possession, knowledge, and inherence. The two factors of authentication involved are the behavior that the user performs or how they act and the location of what the location of the user.

Five authentication methods in 5FA


What the user is aware of (PIN password, PIN)


 A thing that the user owns or has (token)


A thing that users are (biometrics)


What the user does or how they do it


The location where the user is

Both of these elements serve as an additional layer of authentication and should not be utilized as the primary method to verify a user’s identity. For instance, behavioral authentication is in its infancy stage of development, so making it the sole method of authentication is risky. Although it’s an exciting part of the current authentication, the manner in which we use our phones should not be the sole determinant in determining whether you are granted access to a certain application or service. The location, on the other aspect, could be faked by malicious actors using a VPN.

Another reason for the low acceptance is the fact that both additional factors for authentication aren’t specifically a part of any regulations. Knowledge of possession and inherence are explicitly listed as common authentication criteria, but there isn’t any mention of location or behavioral aspects.

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