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Do You Really Need to Pay for Multi-Factor Authentication?

The real question is, who isn’t offering free multi-factor authentication in 2018? Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, TextPower SnapID etc., are offering free multi-factor authentication solutions, and there are no hidden fees. Of course, paid multi-factor authentication platforms come with increased security and features, but you may not need to break the bank to implement these methods.

If you’re wondering what multi-factor authentication is, it is a security feature that requires users to use two or more credentials such as: what the user knows, what the user has, and what the user is. These can include passwords/pin numbers, security questions, swiping a card, sending a code to an email/phone, fingerprint/facial recognition, etc. In today’s world, outsider threats can get ahold of password databases, and without the added protection of multi-factor authentication, it would be easier for them to access accounts.

Free Multi-Factor Authentication Solutions

The multi-factor authentication service offered by TextPower SnapID, is 100% free. This product works by presenting users with an OTP code and a SMS destination number at the time of login. Users must text the code to that destination number, and that allows them computer access. This works because when the user texts the code to that number, SnapID leverages the cellphone’s internal hardware ID information, and verifies that you are who you say you are, and that the source isn’t a spoofed number or device. Google’s authentication service protects G-Suite/Gmail/Google accounts, and works by requiring the user to enter their password, and then the user must input a code that is either generated via the Google Authenticator app, or sent via a text to the user’s phone. Microsoft’s multi-factor authentication protects users’ Outlook and Microsoft accounts. This authentication method requires a password and another contact method, such as security information, or a code generated via the Microsoft Authenticator app.

Inexpensive Multi-Factor Authentication Solutions

Paid platforms will provide additional features and protection such as Gemalto’s SafeNet Authentication Service, which is a very inexpensive multi-factor authentication solution. It costs only $1 per user, a month. The product is offered either as a cloud hosted service or for local hosting on a Windows Server. Another inexpensive, and impressive solution is the Symantec Validation and ID Protection Service. They offer a three-year subscription that costs $55 per user, per year. The best thing  that helps Symantec stand out from the competition is that they support a wide array of hardware tokens, mobile-based soft tokens, SMS and voice-based authentication, push OTP, fingerprint authentication (on iPhones/iPads), and even an app for the Apple Watch.

Are There Any Drawbacks with Multi-Factor Authentication?

While there are many security measures that have drawbacks, multi-factor authentication has very few. In a rare occurrence that you do not have your cell phone with you or available to you, you may not be able to authenticate your login. While this is usually a rare case, because most of us are glued to our phones, if you find yourself without it for a day, that will most likely prevent you from accessing your desktop or accounts. Another possible occurrence involves forgetting/ losing one of your authentication factors, which leaves you in the same place as a hacker trying to get into your account, with only the password. If you are able to reset your account without another access factor, then a hacker may be able to also. This could leave you locked out of your account permanently. While seemingly bad, the situation could be a lot worse if you did not enable multi-factor authentication.

Benefits of Using Multi-Factor Authentication

The point of multi-factor authentication is to eliminate the chance of an intruder accessing an account. With at least two factors needed to login, there is a great chance that an intruder does not have at least one, if not all, of the factors. By implementing multi-factor authentication, organizations become better equipped to prevent intrusions. Compliance standards usually require the implementation of multi-factor authentication for this reason.

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