What Is Multifactor Authentication And How Can It Keep You Safe?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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It’s a security step everyone should be taking, according to Richard Anstey, CTO EMEA Intralinks.

After an array of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Keegan, recently had their x-rated personal photos stolen and leaked on the Internet, it’s been suggested that multifactor authentication could prevent similar situations occurring in future.

It’s also been suggested that celebrities should avoid using publicly available information when answering additional security questions such as their mother’s maiden name, first pet or first school.

Protecting personal data

Richard Anstey, CTO EMEA Intralinks, a provider of inter-enterprise content management and collaboration solution, believes this is advice we should all follow. So what exactly is multifactor authentication and how can you utilise to keep your personal data protected? Anstey has the answers.

fingerprint scannerMulti-factor authentication is a combination of:

1. Something only you know, such as your password or some personal data like your town of birth. The important word here is ‘only’. If you use the same password in several places then it’s not a secret shared by only you and the service you’re working with. The other important aspect of ‘only’ is that, if you are a celebrity, then people can probably find out more details of your life from other sources. And even if you’re not a celebrity then you should probably be aware of just what your family is sharing on social media.

2. Something you have, such as your mobile phone so you can receive an SMS code.

3. Something you are, such as a finger print or iris scan in the case of Biometrics.

By adding extra authentication, like a one-time code sent to your phone, it becomes much more difficult for someone to hack your accounts. And it gets substantially more complicated with the ‘something you are’ aspect – something that Apple should now capitalise on with its phone-based fingerprint recognition technology.