Hardware MFA: Death to the password!


MFA Benefits

Virtual MFA has benefits in that you are able to run it on devices you already have (i.e., a smartphone or tablet) that are low in cost and simple to deploy. Generally, virtual MFA is low-to-no cost because most apps are free or extremely cheap. Hardware MFA options are low cost (at least the options I speak of here) and are often more secure than their mobile app brethren. Both software and hardware MFA offer a move toward a more secure future for authentication.

Despite the multitude of benefits, many MFA technologies have a few drawbacks.

MFA Risks

Malware, trojans, and bots unfortunately don't simply go away when you apply MFA. Additionally, man-in-the-middle attacks, man-in-the-browser (MITB) attacks, and phishing aren't solved automatically with the application of these technologies. Several MFA approaches remain vulnerable to these issues, whereas others do not.

Security panaceas do not exist. Everything you do in this world has an exploitable weakness or one that will eventually be found. MFA authentication isn't a cure-all, but it is a good step in the right direction. It is safe to assume that authentication technology with more than one factor is more difficult to compromise. Applied with other defenses and best information security practices, it will certainly yield a result far superior to traditional one-factor password practices. Better, not perfect: MFA is an evolutionary move in the right direction.

Hardware MFA

Multifactor hardware solutions come in many shapes, sizes, and functions. Some of the hardware MFA solutions I will explore here are available for use with major websites and SaaS solutions. Others are expandable into enterprise and cloud computing, and then some. I first will explore the options for hardware MFA that apply to major websites and cloud providers. Later, I will explore some options that can be deployed in the enterprise, large or small.

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