Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Examples: 3 Key Methods

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Examples: 3 Key Methods<br />

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Examples

Imagine your home. You’ve probably got more than one lock on the door, right? Maybe you’ve got a deadbolt and a chain lock. Maybe you’ve even got a security system. Why? Because you want to make sure only the right people can get in. Now, imagine your online accounts are like your home. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is like having multiple locks on your door – it’s all about adding extra layers of security to ensure you are you!


Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security process that verifies a user’s identity by requiring multiple credentials. Rather than just asking for a username and password, MFA requires other—additional—credentials, like a fingerprint, a security token, or a unique, time-sensitive code.

Example 1: Google’s 2-Step Verification (2011). Google was an early adopter of MFA, introducing a two-step verification process in 2011. This process required users to enter their password and then a unique code that was sent to their mobile device, offering an extra layer of security.

Example 2: Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID (2013, 2017). Introduced in 2013 and 2017 respectively, Touch ID and Face ID are examples of biometric multi-factor authentication. Touch ID uses your unique fingerprint, while Face ID uses facial recognition technology, making it nearly impossible for someone else to access your data.

Example 3: Microsoft’s Windows Hello (2015). Windows Hello uses biometrics – facial recognition or a fingerprint – to unlock your Windows devices, effectively replacing a password. It’s a quick and secure way to authenticate your identity, and the tech is always improving.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

Multi-Factor Authentication Examples In-Depth

Google’s 2-Step Verification (2011)

Have you ever experienced that tiny jolt of panic when you’ve misplaced your house keys? The relief that washes over you when you finally locate them under a pile of old receipts in your bag is palpable. But what if there was a lock on your front door that required not one, but two keys to open? If you lose one key, no worries, because you’ve still got another. Google’s 2-Step Verification works with the same principle in mind.

Back in 2011, Google recognized the increasing threats posed by cyber criminals and took a big step forward for online security. They introduced something called 2-Step Verification, a system that was a bit like asking you to find two separate keys for the same lock. But instead of physical keys, Google asked users for two kinds of digital keys.

The first key is something you know, your password. We’ve all got one for our Google accounts. They’re like the keys to our digital house, allowing us to enter and exit as we please. But keys can be lost, or worse, stolen, and passwords are no different. Cybercriminals have become experts at tricking people into handing over their passwords, or even guessing them.

So, Google introduced a second key, one that’s a lot harder for the bad guys to get hold of. This second key is something you have, your mobile phone. After entering your password, Google’s 2-Step Verification system sends a unique code to your phone. You then enter this code to access your account. This code acts like a second key, and because it’s sent to your mobile device, it’s much harder for cybercriminals to duplicate or steal.

What’s fascinating about this system is that the code changes every time you log in. It’s like having a key that reshapes itself every time you use it! With this two-key approach, even if someone does manage to get their hands on your password, they’d still need your phone to access your account, making it a lot more secure.

The introduction of Google’s 2-Step Verification was a game-changer. It added an extra layer of security to millions of online accounts and made it much harder for cybercriminals to access information they shouldn’t. By simply adding an extra step to the login process, Google made a huge leap in securing digital data.

So next time you log into your Google account and find yourself reaching for your phone to get that verification code, remember that you’re actually using a second key. A key that keeps your digital house much safer from intruders.

Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID (2013, 2017)

Imagine you’re in a bustling city, lost in the crowd. Yet, in the midst of all the noise and hustle, your best friend can easily recognize you. How? Your face, of course! It’s unique, like no other. It’s you! Now imagine if your phone could recognize you the same way. That’s exactly what Apple made possible with its Face ID technology. But before we delve into that, let’s take a step back and explore its precursor, Touch ID.

In 2013, Apple rolled out a brand-new feature on its iPhone 5S: Touch ID. This new technology took a feature that was uniquely yours (your fingerprint), and used it as a form of identification to unlock your phone. In the vast expanse of the digital universe, your fingerprint became your identity, your passcode, your permission slip.

Touch ID turned the home button on your iPhone into a mini fingerprint scanner. By simply resting your finger on the home button, the technology could read your fingerprint, compare it with the saved version, and unlock your device if there was a match. It felt like something straight out of a spy movie, right? But it was very much real and extremely practical. It was faster than typing a password and almost impossible to fake, providing a more secure and convenient way to protect your data.

However, Apple didn’t stop there. In 2017, with the release of the iPhone X, they introduced Face ID, a step beyond Touch ID. No longer did you have to touch your phone to unlock it. With Face ID, all you needed to do was look at it.

Face ID uses an intricate system of sensors and cameras to capture detailed depth information about your face. It then converts this information into a mathematical representation that is securely stored on your device. Each time you glance at your phone, it does the math and if the numbers match, voila, your phone unlocks.

But what makes Face ID so special is not just the tech, but the thought that went into it. Apple designed it to adapt over time, to recognize you even if you change your hairstyle, grow a beard, or put on glasses. It even works in the dark. And just like its predecessor, it is unique and secure. In fact, the chances of someone else unlocking your phone with Face ID are approximately one in a million.

With Touch ID and Face ID, Apple turned something as personal as your fingerprint and face into the keys for your digital world. These features have not only made accessing our devices more convenient but also a lot safer. They’re perfect examples of how MFA, when thoughtfully implemented, can blend seamlessly into our daily routines while adding a significant layer of security.

Microsoft’s Windows Hello (2015)

Have you ever dreamed of your computer recognizing you, like a loyal pet dog whose ears perk up the moment it sees you? The excitement, the immediate sense of familiarity. What if your computer could do the same? Welcome to the realm of Windows Hello.

Launched in 2015, Windows Hello is Microsoft’s answer to biometric security, the science of using unique physical or behavioral traits to verify identity. Similar to how a dog recognizes its owner’s face or voice, Windows Hello recognizes you. It’s a friendlier way to unlock your computer, no paw shake required.

The Windows Hello system uses either facial recognition or fingerprint detection to authenticate your identity, much like a detective at a crime scene. But instead of solving crimes, it’s unlocking your world of spreadsheets, emails, games, and so much more.

Let’s start with the facial recognition part. Windows Hello uses an infrared camera to identify your face. The infrared technology helps it work in different lighting conditions, whether you’re sitting under the bright lights of an office or in the dimly lit corner of a cafe. The system is designed to identify you, not an image of you. So, even if someone held up a picture of your face, they couldn’t fool it. It’s like your loyal pet that would never mistake a photograph for the real you.

Now, if you’re thinking, “But what if I shave my beard or get glasses?” Don’t worry, Windows Hello has got you covered. The technology can adapt to changes in your appearance over time. It’s like your pet who still recognizes you even when you’re wearing that horrible holiday sweater.

The second part of Windows Hello is the fingerprint detection. Just like Touch ID, it requires a compatible fingerprint reader, and your unique fingerprint becomes your key to unlock your device. Each time you touch the reader, it checks if the print matches the one on file. If it’s a match, you’re in.

Windows Hello isn’t just about convenience, though. It’s about security too. The data collected by Windows Hello, be it facial information or fingerprints, is stored locally on the device and not sent to any servers. This means your biometric data doesn’t leave your computer. It’s like your secret handshake with your computer, one that no one else knows.

Windows Hello transformed the way we interact with our computers, making it both more personal and more secure. It’s a shining example of how multi-factor authentication doesn’t have to be complicated or annoying. It can be as simple as saying “Hello.”


Navigating the vast expanse of the digital world is like embarking on an adventurous journey. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is like your trusty travel companion, ensuring you’re the only one who can access your baggage of personal information. Whether it’s a unique code delivered to your phone, a fingerprint scan, or a face recognition feature, MFA adds crucial layers of security to your digital accounts. And the best part? It seamlessly integrates into your daily routines, providing high levels of security without compromising convenience. Next time you use Google’s 2-Step Verification, Apple’s Touch ID or Face ID, or Microsoft’s Windows Hello, remember – you’re not just unlocking your device; you’re also locking out potential intruders.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Why is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) important?

MFA is important because it significantly increases your account security. By requiring multiple forms of verification, cybercriminals are less likely to gain access to your data, even if they’ve managed to crack your password. Think of it as multiple locks on a door – even if a thief has one key, they can’t open the door without the others.

Is Multi-Factor Authentication foolproof?

While MFA dramatically improves account security, no system is 100% foolproof. Cybercriminals are continually developing new strategies to bypass security systems. That being said, MFA makes their job much harder and is currently one of the most effective methods of protecting your digital accounts.

Can MFA be annoying or difficult to use?

Some may find it a little inconvenient at times, particularly if the second factor of authentication isn’t immediately at hand. However, the slight inconvenience is a small price to pay for significantly enhanced security. Plus, tech companies are constantly refining their MFA systems to make them as user-friendly as possible.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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