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What are some useful multifactor authentication examples?

Health IT expert Brien Posey offers some examples of multifactor authentication as a way for hospitals to further safeguard access to protected health information.

Multifactor authentication receives a lot of attention in healthcare environments because of the way the technology...

can better protect against unauthorized data access.

As its name implies, multifactor authentication refers to the simultaneous use of two or more verification mechanisms. Access is granted to protected resources only if the person who seeks access is able to successfully complete all required forms of authentication.

Multifactor authentication examples have existed in one form or another for many years. In recent times, however, one of their primary goals has been to eliminate traditional passwords. Passwords can be difficult to remember (because they change frequently), may be easily compromised and can lead to chain-reaction breaches when a user chooses the same password to secure multiple, disparate resources.

Take the common mistake of using a "work password" to also log in to a favorite retail website. This shortcut introduces a significant security risk. If a criminal infiltrates the e-commerce site, then the hacker may attempt to use customer passwords to access other resources.

Multifactor authentication refers to the simultaneous use of two or more verification mechanisms.

Among multifactor authentication examples, I am seeing biometric-based authentication being considered more by organizations. For instance, fingerprint recognition has become popular in recent years, with many laptops now including built-in fingerprint readers.

Facial recognition is also gaining popularity in healthcare environments. Facial recognition technology is natively supported by Windows 10 and can allow a user to log in automatically. Because this technology can be used as a hands-free form of authentication, it has benefits for healthcare sites in which staff members often carry diagnostic equipment or mobile devices.

Other multifactor authentication examples used in healthcare environments include token authentication, in which a user gains access via a physical object that interacts with a security system. This verification method comes in many different forms, but is often based around a trusted device. One way to use the token approach is to design a system to recognize a user's smartphone as a digital certificate and treat the possession of a trusted device as an authentication type.

This was last published in February 2018

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