Application Security Terminology

Glossary

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Two-Factor Authentication

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Two-factor authentication (2FA), is a type of multifactor authentication that requires a second level of authentication to log into an account. Using a layered defense makes it more difficult for an unauthorized person to access the account. Single-factor authentication is less secure because the user only needs to use one factor, usually a password, to gain entry to data. 

In one form of two-factor authentication, a user must provide personal information from two of the three categories. For example: 

1. “Something you know” includes PINs, security questions, and passwords

2. “Something you are” includes biometrics like a fingerprint, retina scan, or voice print

3. “Something you have” includes a one-time passcode sent to your cellphone or email

Using two factor authentication makes accessing an account more secure because someone trying to access the account needs more than the username and password alone.