Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (Adaptive MFA) is an advanced security mechanism that goes beyond traditional MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) by dynamically adjusting the authentication requirements based on risk factors associated with each login attempt.
Unlike static MFA methods that require the same level of authentication for every login, adaptive MFA uses contextual information to assess the risk level of a login attempt and adapt the authentication process accordingly. This enables organisations to strike a balance between security and user experience, providing stronger protection for high-risk login attempts while reducing friction for legitimate users.
So how does AdaptiveMFA Work?
1. User Authentication: The process begins with the user providing their primary authentication credentials, usually a username and password, to initiate the login attempt.
2. Contextual Analysis: At this point, the system collects various contextual data related to the login attempt, including but not limited to:
User location: IP address and geolocation data.
Device information: Device type, operating system, and browser details.
Time of login: The date and time of the login attempt.
User behaviour patterns: Typical login times, usual access locations, etc.
3. Risk Assessment: The collected contextual data is analysed and assigned a risk score. This score helps determine the level of risk associated with the login attempt.
4. Adaptive Authentication Policy: Based on the risk score, the adaptive MFA system applies a predefined authentication policy.
5. Step-up Authentication: If the risk score exceeds a certain threshold, indicating a high-risk login attempt, the system triggers step-up authentication. In step-up authentication, the user is prompted to provide additional authentication factors beyond the primary credentials. These factors can include a one-time password (OTP) sent via SMS or email, or the use of an authenticator app.
6. Seamless Access for Low-Risk Attempts: For login attempts with a low-risk score, the system may allow the user to access their account without any additional authentication hurdles, offering a smoother and more frictionless login experience.
7. Continuous Monitoring: Adaptive MFA systems continuously monitor user behaviour and context, adapting the authentication requirements over time based on changing risk factors. This continuous monitoring ensures that the system remains responsive to new threats and can adjust security measures accordingly.
How is AdaptiveMFA Better and More Secure than Traditional 2FA?
Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (Adaptive MFA) offers several advantages over normal 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) by providing a more intelligent and dynamic approach to account security. Some of the ways in which Adaptive MFA is better:
Contextual Risk Assessment
Traditional 2FA typically requires the same level of authentication for every login attempt, regardless of the circumstances. On the other hand, Adaptive MFA takes contextual information into account, such as user location, device information, and login time, to assess the risk level of each login attempt. This contextual risk assessment allows the system to adapt its authentication requirements based on the perceived risk, providing stronger security for high-risk login attempts and smoother access for low-risk ones.
Reduced Friction for Legitimate Users
With normal 2FA, users are often required to provide a second authentication factor (e.g., a one-time password) every time they log in, even if they are accessing their accounts from a familiar device and location. Adaptive MFA uses continuous monitoring and behavioural analysis to recognise familiar patterns and devices, minimising the need for additional authentication for low-risk login attempts. This reduction in friction improves the user experience without compromising security.
Real-Time Threat Response
Adaptive MFA systems continuously monitor user behaviour and contextual data, enabling real-time threat detection. If an unusual or high-risk login attempt is detected, the system can trigger step-up authentication, requiring the user to provide additional verification. and in some situations block user access. This proactive response to potential threats reduces the chances of successful unauthorised access.
Continuous Monitoring and Learning
AdaptiveMFA constantly gathers and analyses data, allowing it to learn from new patterns and emerging threats. The system can update risk profiles and adapt authentication policies based on evolving security trends, providing a proactive defence against potential attacks.
Risks of Traditional SMS 2FA
While Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) provides an additional layer of security compared to single-factor authentication, it is not without its own set of risks and threats. Some of the known risks and threats associated with traditional SMS 2FA include:
Phishing Attacks: Phishing remains a significant threat to 2FA. Attackers can trick users into revealing both their login credentials and the second factor (e.g., one-time password) by directing them to fake login pages or through deceptive emails.
SIM Swapping: In SIM swapping attacks, malicious actors convince a mobile carrier to transfer a victim's phone number to a device they control. This enables them to intercept 2FA codes sent via SMS, bypassing the intended recipient.
Social Engineering: Attackers may employ social engineering tactics to manipulate users into revealing their 2FA codes, posing as a legitimate service provider or IT personnel.
Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks: In MITM attacks, an attacker intercepts and relays communication between the user and the service, collecting both the login credentials and the 2FA code during the authentication process.
At Whispir, we consider the security of our customers' accounts as our topmost priority. We understand the critical importance of safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring the trust our customers place in us is well-founded. As part of our commitment to maintaining the highest security standards, we will continue implementing and deploying enhanced and robust security features to protect against potential threats and unauthorised access.
If you have any questions, you can always reach out to our friendly Support team to assist you with any further enquiries.