Single-Factor Authentication

KZero Staff
Oct 18, 2023

Single-factor authentication, or SFA,  is a fundamental security measure that verifies the claim of a user’s identity and matches it to credentials used to validate themselves digitally. Those credentials are typically a combination of a username, such as an email address and a password. It relies on the principle that the user possesses or knows the correct credentials to access a network or privileged information. This information can be anything from a file to a password.

How Does Single-Factor Authentication Work

Single-factor authentication works when a piece of information is compared to pre-stored information in an authentication server. If the information entered matches the pre-stored ones, the user can access the server or privileged information. Today, most SFAs will typically not compare the credential itself but a computation of that value against the computation of the user-provided input. Single-factor authentication can be carried out in various forms:

  • Password-based authentication
  • Biometrics, such as fingerprint scanners or facial recognition
  • Hardware tokens, such as smart cards, USB hardware, and One-Time Passwords (OTP)

Advantages of Single-Factor Authentication

SFA has many advantages as it’s ubiquitous and familiar to many users globally. It is also easy to use and is more cost-effective as it does not require the infrastructure or technology associated with multi-factor authentication. Single-factor authentication provides several benefits, including:

  • Cost-Effectiveness for Businesses: SFA requires less infrastructure and fewer resources, making it cost-effective.
  • Simplicity: It’s easy for users. Remember a password or a PIN, and you’re good to go.
  • Ease of Implementation: Both users and service providers find it uncomplicated to set up.
  • Quick Access: It’s fast. Enter your credential, and you’re in.
  • Low Overhead: Generally less complex than multi-factor methods in terms of technology and user education.

Disadvantages of Single-Factor Authentication

Some disadvantages of single-factor authentication include:

  • Security Risks: If that single factor gets compromised, your security is at risk. Think of a stolen password giving unauthorized access.
  • Compliance: In certain jurisdictions, it may be necessary to have an authentication system that is more secure than SFA.
KZero Staff

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